Basketball bombshell: Gravengard quits as GPRC ladies coach
TERRY FARRELL – Herald-Tribune staff
Citing personal reasons, Kim Gravengard resigned as coach of the Grande Prairie Regional College Wolves yesterday afternoon.
"There have been some personal issues that have been weighing on my mind for quite a while now and it's just probably going to be in my best interest to step down now," said Gravengard when contacted after the college made the announcement. "It's a bad time of the year, but I think this is the best, for me, personally."
While Gravengard would not go into detail regarding the decision, she did stress that the team itself – it's personnel, the wins and losses – had nothing to do with her decision.
"Oh no, not at all," she said. "There's just stuff I would rather not have printed in the paper, regarding my personal life, but this is just my own issues."
Gravengard had been the head coach of the team since the beginning of the 2007 season, following four years as an associate coach on the team.
Associate coach Dave Waknuk, who has been on the Wolves staff since the 2005 season, has been named the new head coach. Geoff Thomas will remain as an associate and Bill Shaw has been brought aboard to fill Waknuk's vacated position.
Although the timing caught Waknuk somewhat off-guard, he is excited about the opportunity.
"Since I've been involved with the college I've always thought I could work my way into a head coaching role," he said.
"I expected this to come my way someday, I just didn't expect it to come my way so suddenly. So it was a little bit of a surprise, but I was definitely preparing myself for this position at some point. I just didn't know when it would be."
As a member of the staff, Waknuk does not expect to make any significant changes to the Wolves philosophy this season.
"I don't think we have to blow anything up, I think I just have to fine-tune some things," he said.
"I coached with Kim a long time and I think our philosophies are similar. Given my chance, I may change a few things, but I feel like the model that we have developed in my time at the college is a successful one, so I don't see a need to change that. It just needs to be tweaked."
Players were told of the developments just prior to practice last night.
"The team was surprised, and I think they are still letting it sink in, but they went pretty hard at practice afterward," said Waknuk.
"There was a lot of shock," said team captain Jaelle Buhler. "A lot of shock; a lot of surprise. It's not anything that we saw coming or that we wanted. It's always hard to lose a head coach halfway through and we were built around a vision that she had, so that makes it hard as well."
Buhler said making the adjustment to Waknuk will be a lot easier for her and her mates than had an unfamiliar face taken over.
"Definitely," she said. "He's totally capable of it and he's ready to go.
"It's nice to have someone we are familiar with, and we know what he's like."
Gravengard did not close the door on future involvement with the college, to some capacity.
"I am not sure where this will lead me to my future involvement with GPRC," she said. "They run a great program. They have great basketball programs, volleyball, soccer, it's a very reputable college. So there's no reason to think I would not be involved in some sort of fashion in the future.
"It's just at this point in my life, I have to look at myself, my personal issues and what not, and decide what's best for me and my family."
Gravengard dismissed the notion of her name popping up as coach for another ACAC team in the new year.
"No, I am not moving, that's not a concern at all," she said."To be honest with you, I couldn't imagine supporting any other college the way I do Grande Prairie.
"I'll miss it, there's no doubt. I have enjoyed my time at the college and I will continue to come out and support the girls every chance I get. But I had to look at myself, my own situation and decide what was going to be the best."
Gravengard had an overall record of 38-22 with the Wolves, including 6-6 this season. She guided the Wolves to playoff positions in each of her two full seasons, with 16-8 records in both the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons. The Wolves lost their quarter-final matches both years.
"It's never easy to change coaches in the middle of a season, but we thank Kim for her efforts and contributions in the last (three) years," said GPRC athletic director Jordan Abney.