Ireland: Waterford Wolves Announce New Head Coach

Alan Magner Photography 
It is now roughly four months to the start of the new IAFA season and for most teams the pre-season is well under way. 

As usual the Wolves were going about their business in an efficient and timely manner, but this time under the watchful eye of new Head Coach Robert Wills. 

After a season where the team exceeded even their own expectations and high standards, only narrowly losing out on promotion to the SBC, the addition of this native Texan to the pack is a massive boost. Coach Wills has 32 years’ experience coaching football throughout eastern Texas at several schools and is bringing it all to bear with the young Waterford team hanging on his every word as he explains the intricacies of the game to them as they get put through their drills.

In College Robert Wills played football under the direction of defensive Coach Jim Bates (who has served as interim head coach of the Miami Dolphins and more recently Defensive Coordinator of The Tampa Bay Buccaneers) at Texas Tech. But it was in coaching Wills discovered his true talent. At the age of 24 Wills accepted his first coaching job, also coaching in track & field, baseball and basketball, whilst teaching History. Unfortunately finishing the season with a 0 & 10 record. He learned from it and never had a losing season after. Coaching all over Eastern Texas at a variety of High Schools Wills met and befriended many of the games biggest names, amongst them Coach Gaines of Permian High School, who Wills met during a stint at Kermit High School. A small town 40 miles from Odessa in the Permian Basin. Wills is quick to point out though that although the fanatical support of the towns in Texas is quite accurately portrayed in the book “Friday Night Lights” Coach Gaines own portrayal was somewhat exaggerated.

Unfortunately Coach Wills, despite winning many district titles never won a championship but has reached the playoffs on several occasions with several teams, and can boast of having had a successful career in football. When asked about the highlight of his career, Coach responded by saying that “the whole thing was just very rewarding, I am delighted and honoured to have had a positive effect on so many young people as I did. Some still keep in contact with me, on this new thing called Face Book, and put up posts of things that I said to them years ago. That is the highlight of it all for me.”

Coach Wills, or Pastor Wills now resides in New Ross with his wife Joanie and is the Pastor for a new church in the County Wexford town. While over here he heard about the American Football movement in Ireland, and eventually made contact with Wolves, who were delighted to have him come along to watch a practice, and now take over as Head Coach for the 2014 season.

This move in personnel sees Coach Steve Collins move to take over the Special Teams coaching role, one he is very familiar with and one that requires an expert eye as it will be Waterfords first season with a special teams unit.

It is clear to see that the players have the utmost respect for Coach Wills as they hang on every word he speaks. Coach Wills has spoken of the desire within the team being “off the chart”. This will be a very different Waterford Wolves team that takes to the RSC next year. Focused, Driven and now with the addition of Coach Wills, they are going to be even more formidable than ever.

Greg Barrett