Symons describes the feeling of joining UBC as “a dream come true” and hopes to continue the legacy of the team. The T-Birds captured their sixth and most recent CIS National Championship title last season under Kovacs, who won it in her first and only season with the 'Birds.
“It’s always been success. The players on the field have always shown a willingness to win … I’m looking forward to continuing that focus as we progress through the 2016 season,” said Symons.
Before receiving his appointment as T-Birds head coach, Symons served as the technical director and head coach of the North Shore Girl’s Soccer Club. There, he established the first Canadian franchise in the Women’s Premier Soccer League. Prior to that, Symons had spent 10 years as head coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s W-League and Girls Elite teams.
Although Symons has never coached a varsity team in the past, he is no stranger to the teams in the CIS Western Conference. During his time with the Whitecaps, Symons had encountered these teams on various occasions, which he will again be doing regularly with the ‘Birds.
“I have a good grasp not just knowing the coaches from all those teams very well, but the players on a lot of the teams too. I think overall there’s a very good sense of the conference,” said Symons.
The hiring process for the new head coach was a competitive one. According to Gord Hopper — UBC Director of Athletics, Performance and Team Support — close to 20 other candidates applied for the position.
“We’re very excited to be bringing Jesse Symons on board. He’s a strong coach and he’s got a proven track record working with female athletes,” said Hopper.
Hopper believes that on top of Symons’ extensive coaching experience, his connections with various players and coaches in the soccer community will be especially beneficial when it comes to recruiting student-athletes to the university.
“[Symons] has a very positive reputation in the community, so that should open the door with keeping the absolute best elements here in Canada,” said Hopper.
The new coach is also a familiar face for a number of the current players on the women’s soccer team. Some of them have won national championships for the BC Provincial U-18 team with Symons as head coach.
Symons will be putting his skills to the test when the T-Birds’ regular season kicks off in September.