New coach looks to restore Shamrocks glory

Former Shamrocks goalie Bob Heyes promoted from assistant to head coach

Bob Heyes takes over the head coaching duties of the Victoria Shamrocks.

Bob Heyes has the resumé. A Minto Cup, two Mann Cups and time playing field lacrosse with the legendary Victoria Waxmen/Seaspray.

But as a goalie who spent his fair share of time watching from the bench, the newly appointed head coach of the Victoria Shamrocks also has a perspective some players don’t.

Heyes was promoted from assistant coach of the iconic Western Lacrosse Association organization this week following Walt Christianson’s recent resignation.

“My style will be different. How, I can’t really pinpoint right now, but I want a different style of play,” Heyes said.

“I want players to have a little more accountability and responsibility, not that we didn’t have it before, but to make sure they realize they’re playing for a team with a rich history, on and off the floor.”

A Nanaimo product until intermediate, Heyes signed with the junior A Esquimalt Legion, and was the team’s MVP during its 1988 Minto Cup championship. He spent time as starter and backup with the Shamrocks, winning Mann Cups in 1997 and 1999, the latter being Christianson’s comeback season. He also played for the Pittsburgh Bulls in the defunct Major Indoor Lacrosse League, a precursor to the National Lacrosse League.

Until recently, becoming a head coach hadn’t crossed Heyes mind.

“I’ve played under past coaches such as Chris Hall, and Walt, and I hold them in high regard, he said.

I don’t see myself at that level right now. I’ll be learning every day. Coaching this club is a huge responsibility.”

The goals are the same however, and Heyes is out to right the errors of the ’Rocks’ ways. Last season the club was built to defeat New Westminster Salmonbellies, who had set the bar in the WLA. That collapsed when the Shamrocks fell to the upstart Langley Thunder in the first round of the playoffs.

“If you really want to put a mark on your lacrosse career, you do it in Canada winning a Mann Cup,” Heyes said.

“It’s much harder to win a Mann Cup than a one-game final, where it’s still a battle, but in this league there can be more playoff games than regular season, so I’ll emphasize that. A lot of guys are NLL players, but if you’re here, you’re here to be a Shamrock.”

Heyes expects to have his assistants in place as soon as two weeks from now: one offensive and one defensive specialist who are going to be on the same page but who aren’t yes men, he said.

“There’s a lot of people in town who have a great lacrosse background and I will be leaning on some of them to be open to (re)building this franchise toward greatness.”

sports@vicnews.com

 

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