By Sean Rooney on July 17, 2018.
Medicine Hat College is officially moving on from its long-time, award-winning soccer coach —and, for that matter, a one-coach system.
Jim Loughlin’s name was nowhere to be seen in Monday’s press release announcing Ian Tully to run the men’s team and Stephen Newton for the women’s. Loughlin —hired in 2004 as the men’s coach and made the head coach of both teams in 2006 —took a leave of absence last year, and is now listed on Alberta Soccer’s website as their director of coach education and player development. Calls and emails to Loughlin were not returned by press time.
After going with ex-Rattler Travis Hyde as the interim head coach last year, the Rattlers have turned to a pair of men with British military backgrounds to guide them now that Loughlin won’t be returning. Tully has refereed at the college level and coached up to under-18 and Medicine Hat men’s squads in his 20 years on the sidelines. Newton, a former player and coach in the military with 15 years experience, has also coached up to under-14 teams in recent years in the city.
“Personally I think it’s a great idea to have a coach for each,” said Tully. “One thing is, if teams make the playoffs the head coach can only go with one. That can upset the rhythm.
“As a coach you can focus on that one team, it’s half the workload if you like.”
Medicine Hat’s men finished 6-3-1 last year and lost out in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference quarter-finals. The women went 7-2-1 before a similar quarter-final exit.
Both coaches also take over the Rattlers futsal teams —the men won bronze this past spring while the women were ACAC champions for the fifth year in a row.
“My main goal for the upcoming season would be to help the teamget as much enjoyment out of football as I did when I played,” Newton, who could not be reached for comment Monday, said in a press release. “I believe this is paramount in keeping the girls interested in the game and having them continue with the sport that they love.”
Both of Tully’s sons played for the Rattlers so he’s been around the program plenty, though he hasn’t refereed at the college level the past two years and won’t know what this year’s team will look like until they start training together in mid-August. He estimates nine returnees however and has already told them to be ready.
“We’ve got to get off to a flying start,” said Tully. “All the guys I’ve spoken to, I’ve told them to start training now. I believe fitness is very, very important.”
Medicine Hat’s first conference games are scheduled for Sept. 8 in Olds.