THUNDER BAY -- Andrew Wilkins has landed his dream job.
The 26-year-old was thinking of going pro when he retired as captain of the Lakehead Thunderwolves last year. But the team made him an offer he couldn't refuse as it announced Wednesday that he would become the first full-time assistant coach in the organization's history.
"I want to jump all over that opportunity," he said.
While it will be a different experience being behind the bench without his skates on, Wilkins said he respects his former teammates and it goes both ways.
"'I think the guys will be excited to have me back. I'll be excited to be working with them," he said.
Head coach Bill McDonald said Wilkins was an exceptional captain who led the team on and off the ice. The two haven't had much time to discuss strategy but McDonald is looking forward to learning from Wilkins as much as he is to teach him.
"I'm old. I've been around forever and one of my slogans is you learn something new every time you go in the rink and I might learn something off of him," he said.
Wilkins said it's an honour for someone his age to have the opportunity to study under a coach like McDonald.
And when it comes to qualities, they both want character.
Wilkins will also head up recruiting, using his contacts made over five year in the OHL, looking for hard work, knowledge of the game and commitment. It's part of what makes a good student athlete.
"You always want to ge the most out of your players in the classroom, on the ice and in the community," he said.
Wilkins will also be busy running the hockey school and trying to attract new season ticket holders and sponsors.
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