Coaches outside of ASL: Their lives beyond Waverley Place

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Michael Flaherty, Online Editor

In the winter season there were seven coaches who don’t work at the school aside from coaching. With the winter season over, here’s a profile of coaches who played a critical role in the Winter Season. 

Huw Jones: Crew Development Team Coach

How did you get the job at ASL? I simply wrote to [Athletics Director] John [Farmer] and said I’d be very interested… explained the history I had in coaching and the achievements I’ve done myself. He got me in and I went from there.

What do you do outside of ASL? Now I only coach. Before, I was working in the advertising business for a long time… you get to a certain age where you’re almost too old to be involved in that business.  It’s a real young man’s business.

Where else do you coach? I coach at my own rowing club… Quintin Boat Club… and at the club adjacent, the club I actually row for, which is a veterans group.

How did you get into crew? I’ve rowed all my life since I was at school and as a result of just being involved in the rowing community I’ve coached at various locations in the past. Including my own rowing club and various other places including schools where people are learning to row.

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JJ Jokinen: JJV Boys Basketball Coach, JV Girls Basketball Coach

How’d you get the job at ASL? I originally [studied at] the Zurich International School and one of my friends was coaching softball here at ASL. When I graduated, she mentioned that they were looking for some coaches. I came down, didn’t know the school, met Farmer, we got off on a good foot, [and] I started coaching once a week. Then I started doing softball, and now I coach two sports every season.

What do you do outside of ASL? I coach for British teams, a university team and then I run multi-sport sessions for kids around London.

How did you get into sports? Sports was always my life in high school. [I] played soccer, played basketball, ran track. I went to the military [before university] and then after the military I was given a choice: do I want to study something, and I thought “yep”. I’m going to have a fall-back position and I knew I wanted to do something with sport. Because at the time that’s really the only thing that interested me. So I majored in sports management and my minor was coaching and then right as I graduated that’s when I got the message that ASL is looking for coaches and the rest is history.  

Do you like London? I do like London. London is very cultural you see people from all over the place. I’m not from around here I’m from Finland originally and I feel quite at home. There’s Finish people here, there’s American people here, there’s English people here so I don’t feel like I stand out… it’s a good mixture of people.

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Erik Brucker: Varsity Girls Basketball Coach

How’d you get the job at ASL? I talked with [Farmer] and we talked about my coaching background and that we were here in London and asked if they need any help in any areas and we’ve been in a good relationship. Since that was a good fit I then got asked this year to do the varsity girls basketball.

Why did you come to London? For my job, I work for an organization called “Young Life.” It’s a non-profit, mentoring and ministry organization dedicated to helping kids grow in all facets of their life. So I got asked to come here and be the director of the London branch.

How do you like London? It’s fantastic. We love it. Love the diversity.  My wife’s a history nerd. So we love exploring the city. The people have been awesome and being a part of the ASL community has been great.

Where are you from? I’m from Washington State. East Washington. I went to school there, moved to Cairo for a few years and then back to Spokane, [Washington] and I coached there as well and now I’m in London.

How did you get into sports? I grew up playing sports. I did cross country, basketball and baseball in high school. [I] played some football in middle school. My dad was an Athletics Director at my high school and I just grew up in a sporting family and I just really enjoyed it.

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Laura Brucker: Assistant Varsity Girls Basketball Coach, Assistant JV Boys Basketball Coach

How’d you get the job at ASL? When [my husband, Erik, and I] knew that we were going to be moving over here… we looked up the international schools here and we saw that ASL was the school closest to where we’d be hanging out so we contacted [Farmer] and gave him our CV.

How do you like London so far? I love it. I had high expectations and it’s exceeded all my expectations.

What’s your favorite part of London? I love the diversity. I love that you can walk down the street and hear four or five different languages being spoken.

What brought you to London? After doing [a] little stint in Cairo, we’ve always thought, “Man it would be really cool to go international again,” and it just wasn’t the right timing.  We loved what we were doing in Spokane, [Washington] but we looked online and there was an opening here and we thought “Hey, let’s go for it.”

How’d you get into sports? I can’t think of a time when I haven’t been involved in sports. My parents are both athletes. I have grown up around sports. I played soccer at university… my first year out, I just really missed being around the sport. I saw that there was a need in my community for good coaches, especially female coaches. So that filled my needs and also met the needs of the community.

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Josh Davis: Head Varsity Boys Basketball Coach

How’d you get the job at ASL? I used to coach at a Southeast London club. I knew that ASL had a great reputation for crowd participation. So I wanted to organize a few friendlies for my club team against ASL. Even though our kids were much, much younger we competed well against that years’ varsity team.  It was also [Former Varsity Boys Basketball Head Coach] Joe Chodl’s last year so people knew that he was leaving and they were looking for a basketball coach. Then some names were floated around, someone put my name out there and then I had an interview, went through the process, met Farmer and [High School Principal Jack] Phillips and got the job, fortunately.

How’d you get into basketball? My dad played in the NBA for a very, very short period of time, just a training camp. Then he played professionally overseas and then he’s been a coach my whole life. So, the ball was basically put into my crib when I was a baby and I was raised around it. I would go to his practices when I was younger, I would go to his games obviously. I just kind of absorbed as much as I could.

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Neil Matthews: Swimming Coach

How’d you get the job at ASL? I was coaching quite a few of the swimmers from ASL at the swimming club in Camden and they were short a coach a few years ago because one of the coaches was on maternity leave and Karen [Field] recommended me for it because her daughter swam with my daughter.

What do you do outside of ASL? I’m a photographer.

What do you take pictures of? I do mostly fashion and beauty, but I started of in the band industry. So I did bands all through the 80’s. [I also] used to direct music videos.

You mentioned photography earlier, what about photography keeps you interested? When I was at school, I was interested in photography, but all the subjects that I did at school were not related at all. I actually went to university and did a degree in economics and politics so I was going to do current affairs research at the BBC. In the process of applying to get on their graduates course, a bunch of friends of mine who were in a band from school signed a record deal and before that, they played in South of France at a club. I got on a motorbike with a friend of mine and took pictures of them and they signed a record deal. I sold the picture to the record company, and I was able to turn my hobby into a career. That band was Spandau Ballet and they went on to be quite big. So I worked with all those big bands in the 80s and the 90s. I lived in [Los Angeles] for two years when I was directing videos.  It wasn’t what I set out to do, but it kind of went on and on. It’s what I was interested in and it was rewarding. I still do it, but I do less of it now than I did.

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James Markham: JV Boys Basketball Coach 

How’d you get the job at ASL? I used to coach for a local basketball club, the Westminster Warriors, and an ASL parent, whose kids I coached spoke to the then Middle School [Athletic] Director and recommended me… when she heard that an eighth-grade boys position was open.

What do you do outside of ASL? I work at a local secondary school, St. George’s.  I work in the PE department there and during PE lessons if they’re doing basketball, I’ll take the lead on that, other than that I’ll just assist a PE teacher with, football, athletics, whatever. I also run breakfast clubs [for basketball], there as well, so every morning, from [about] 7:30 to 8:45 on Monday’s, Wednesday’s and Friday’s we have boys in. Tuesday’s and Thursday’s we have girls in and we just work on their skills.   I also coach teams at the school, … [and I] coach the men’s team at Middlesex University.

How did you get into basketball? I always loved sports, and Channel 4 started showing a basketball magazine program and the fact that it was American, kind of piqued my interest and in the third episode they showed a music highlight video of this player in his third or fourth year in Chicago. His name was Michael Jordan and that was it. When I saw him play, he was doing cradle dunks and 360s.  So I said, “that’s what I want to do.” Obviously, I didn’t end up doing what he did but that’s when I fell in love with the game.