U SPORTS sits down with one key athlete, coach, and staff member of each U SPORTS athletic program in our interview series “Getting to know…”
- Name: John Antulov
- School: Thompson Rivers University
- Sport: Men’s soccer
- Position: Head coach
- Seniority: 12 years
- Hometown: Kamloops B.C.
1. How did you first get involved in coaching? What was your path to your position as head coach of the WolfPack?
First started coaching as an assistant with Keith Watts at Simon Fraser University and then with Saibo Talic at European Football school once I finished my playing career. Worked with the academy for five years and then moved back to Kamloops and started with TRU when the program was in the PacWest conference of the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA).
2. Who are the people that have influenced you most as a coach?
Saibo Talic and Keith Watts. Learned a lot from both of them, both on and off the field. Excellent mentors and people.
3. How would you describe your coaching style?
Firm but fair. I am emotional and invested, but I think I am a players’ coach. I try to build solid relationships with the player and group. I want to enjoy what I am doing and I want the players to enjoy as well.
4. Which coach do you admire the most, and why?
Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp – he really seems to enjoy what he is doing on and off the field and he seems to have a great relationship with his players. He gets the best results from the group he has.
5. What is the most “out-of-the-box” thing you’ve done as a coach?
I’m pretty old school. I try to keep it as simple as I can. ‘Out of the box’ is not really in my vocabulary!!
6. What is your greatest coaching moment or achievement?
Winning Canada West bronze and U SPORTS bronze in 2017-18 in just our fourth year competing at the U SPORTS level.
7. What’s the best advice you can give to an athlete and/or athlete’s parents?
Find a program that is the best fit for you and where you will enjoy your five years. Look at all aspects – soccer, schooling, city to make sure it is the proper fit.
8. How have you changed as a coach over time? What principles/values, etc. have remained the same?
I believe I have. I was very intense early on my career but have been much calmer as I get older and learned to adapt to todays player. I still have not compromised on culture, mindset, training habits but I now take the time to communicate with the group.
9. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not in coaching mode?
I enjoy the outdoors, hiking, biking and kayaking. Kamloops is a beautiful city and area if you like being outside.
10. What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you as a coach?
Knock on wood – I haven’t had anything happen yet and hopefully it stays that way!