Wetmore era begins at Dal

Alan Wetmore is back.

After a one year hiatus, Wetmore has returned to the coaching ranks as the new Head Coach of the Dalhousie Tigers of the Atlantic Football League (AFL).

Wetmore spent seven seasons at the helm of the Sir John A MacDonald Flames of the Nova Scotia Student Athletic Federation Football League (NSSAFFL).  Upon the completion of the 2012 season, Wetmore opted to take a break.


The past year was a major adjustment shock for Wetmore.  He described the year away from football in one simple word “lonely”.

“Truthfully, it was lonely,” recalled Wetmore.  “I’ve been in football forever.”

“My only memories are of only being a football player or a football coach around 50 other guys.  That’s all I know.  I took a year off and have been extremely busy but yet you still find yourself lonely.  You obviously find yourself missing the guys, the comradery and missing the passion it brings out in you.  It’s funny, I feel like I have aged more in one year than I did in 10 while coaching because coaching keeps you young.”

However, the hiatus did not last for long.  Previous Tigers Head Coach Stuart MacLean was considering stepping aside due to his hectic schedule.  Soon after, the process began that ultimately led Wetmore to the Tigers Head Coach position.

“The previous head coach Stuart MacLean was just too busy,” explained the rookie Tigers Head Coach. “He’s a CEO, he is on the board of directors of the YMCA and he has his hands in a lot of pockets.”

“It was just too much for him to handle so he was considering resigning. Stu and I have coached together before and obviously we are both Acadia alumni.  So when it came time to resign, him and Jim Wilson (Tigers Chairman & Co-Founder) sat down and kind of shortlisted a bunch of guys and I was on that list. Then, Stuart contacted me and I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity.  It was an opportunity, a privilege to be asked.  I felt grateful to have the opportunity so I took it.”

Overall, there were a couple of major reasons why Wetmore felt this was just too good of an opportunity to pass up.

“I love coaching football,” commented Wetmore.  “I am a little busy myself.”

“I’ve got to have my hands full.  I took a year off and I missed it considerably.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to be back in to coach football or not.  When someone comes out and asks for you to be a head coach of a university team, I said “yes for sure”.”

With his acceptance of the Tigers Head Coaching position, Wetmore will be reunited once with some of the Flames players he’s had the privilege of instructing, including quarterback Matt Shannon. He hopes some of the magic that was created during his time with the Flames will transfer over to the Tigers.

““I will enjoy it,” said Wetmore of the reunion.  “Mentally you become very close to these guys.”

“I’m looking forward to all the guys that are now elsewhere transferring over.  Together, we built a great thing at Sir John A and we are setting up to build a great thing at Dal.  I mean it’s already been built but we’re seeing it as a fresh thing so I am looking forward to building a great thing at Dal.  I know the Flames knows what it takes to create a great thing and that makes it easier –their standards are already established, their expectations are already established.  It’s within their own subconscious to practice a certain way, to conduct themselves a certain way so it makes it a little bit easier.  If some of your guys that have been with you are already there because you don’t necessarily have to brainwash them like some of the others.”

Since beginning his tenure as Head Coach, Wetmore has been busy as he has been focusing on getting three key priorities looked after which he hopes will translate into success for the Tigers in 2014 and beyond.

Dalhousie Tigers football

The first thing he wanted to look after was solidifying Tigers personnel.

“The first priority was comprising an excellent staff,” stated Wetmore.  “If you comprise an excellent staff, then everything will take care of itself.”

“My first priority was to set out and find the guys that I knew would help me achieve the goals we have and I went out and accomplished that.  I am ecstatic with the staff that we have.  They are all great guys with great football pedigree, with great enthusiasm and they are all guys that our players really like.”

Wetmore’s next two priorities centred upon operations and recruitment of players.

“After that, the next priority is establishing a schedule of operations that allows you to succeed,” explained the Tigers Head Coach.  “Dal has one field and they have a lot of demand on that field so the next priority is to set up a schedule of operation that’s going to allow you to succeed.”

“We’re well on our way of accomplishing that, it just a matter of getting players on the field. So we’ve been setting out and recruiting and advertising and marketing and trying to develop a roster that we can build on for the next five to 10 years.”

As for the recruitment efforts, the Tigers are looking locally, provincially and nationally to find players.  Since Wetmore is from Nova Scotia, it will be a reflected in recruiting from Dal’s backyard.

“I think you draw whatever you can,” commented Wetmore.  “I’m very Nova Scotia football oriented.”

“I sell giving our guys opportunities to play football beyond high school is fantastic.  The reality of it is that there are a small percentage of our high school athletes that can play in the CIS.  The AFL is not the CIS yet, but it’s great quality football and it gives our kids a great opportunity to get an incredible education and to continue to play football past high school.  That’s a mandate of mine personally.  That’s another great reason to have this position is that I am in a position to allow our local athletes to continue to play and have fun because football is such a great game.”

Additionally, he is thrilled to have the opportunity to speak with players from other provinces.

“I am enjoying talking to other kids from Manitoba, BC and Ontario,” added the Tigers Head Coach. “I am enjoying those conversations.”

“I am enjoying the guys that coming down from the OVFL and Junior ball out there that are continuing on with their education and they’ re coming to Dal and playing football.  I am enjoying that aspect of it.”

As for positions the Tigers are looking to fill, Wetmore said it is comparable to his national counterparts.

“The same as every football head coach throughout Canada,” offered the Tigers Head Coach.  “We will always say the same thing – O-Linemen. “

“We are always looking for O-Linemen and everyone in the country is looking for O-Linemen.”

One of the ways the Tigers are hoping for recruitment success is through strategic marketing.

“So in terms of marketing, you set up a website, emails – you send it out and you let the word get around and create enthusiasm around the program,” described Wetmore.  “The best way to create enthusiasm around the program is to be enthusiastic.”

“You build it, they will come.”

At this point, Wetmore is unsure of which players he will get the chance of instructing on the Tigers roster, but he is up for any surprises that may come his way.  One thing he does know is who the starting quarterback will more than likely be for the Tigers.

“I really don’t know yet and I’m alright with not knowing,” said the Tigers Head Coach.  “I know whoever shows up on the field is going to get quality coaching and that will take care of itself.”

“I can say that Matt Shannon who was a quarterback with us at Sir John A is and was one of the best quarterbacks that I have worked with and it’s his job to lose at this point.  I don’t know who else is showing up.  It’s his job to lose but I expect great leadership out of him, great execution out of him like I always have gotten out of him.”

With a new look, new bunch of players and new regime, what can everyone expect to see from the Dalhousie Tigers on the field this fall?

“We are all going to be ourselves,” answered Wetmore.  “Usually, your teams are pretty well the same way you are.”

“They are going to be the same way the Flames were. They are going to be very hard working.  They are going to be tough and they are going to be extremely resilient.  They are going to play until the end and we are obviously going to try to be fundamentally precise and sound.  On top of that, we are going to be tough and hard working.  We are going to be putting a lot of pressure on the other teams to play their best game because they are going to need to compete with us.”

As for the competition in the league, Wetmore likes the promise and direction the AFL is heading towards.  Moreover, he believes the level of competition will only get stronger, which bodes well for the future of the league.

“It’s a great league,” expressed the Tigers Head Coach of the AFL.  “I think it’s a league that is up and coming.”

“It’s quality and product improves every year.  I’ve been to the league meetings and look at all the teams involved and it has great leadership and I think the product is going to continue to improve year in and year out. I know we are coming in as a program that will try to be much better than we were and continue to grow every year.  The league will follow suit.  I think its great quality football.”

As Wetmore is getting settled in with his new position, he does have a message for anyone that is considering the option of playing for the Tigers this fall or in the years to come.

“This is a viable football product for you to take advantage of,” said Wetmore.  “Anybody that wants to continue to play football, get a great education, be a part of something that’s really fun and have the great game of football in your life, we are going to respect the high academic pressures that these young men have.”

“We are always going to respect that so we are going to make sure we enhance their university experience.  We are always to going make sure we enhance their academic potential while having fun while playing such a great game.  For the local kids, it’s a great opportunity to continue to play football.  I keep on saying to my own guys obviously I train a lot of guys that go off to the AUS or in grade 11, I say “you know what? You would be more than welcome to come out and play some football.  You know where we are at.  You know we are going to have fun and hey we’re going to win.” I say that to everybody. If you want to have some fun and win some games and continue to play football.  Come on out, come on down, come on over.”

For any players interested in Dal Football, please go to the following link:


Dalhousie Tigers Photo credit:  Trevor MacMillan, Sideline Photography

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