Manager Interview Series: Wolfpack
We talked this week with Wolfpack's boss Kyle Hanavan. He shared his thoughts on his teams evolution over the years, what makes them a tough Tehel Cup out and more. Thanks to him for taking the time.
Head inside for the full interview.
Manager Interview Series: Wolfpack
BDSL: Thanks for taking the time Kyle. I think its fair to say that Wolfpack has been a steady BDSL club for a number of years now. What do you think best attributes to that consistency you guys have been able to produce?
PACK: Thanks for having me Mike. I would definitely say because most of us have kids and are married and need an excuse to get out of the house. Just kidding, I would say two things go into it for us. The first is we are very lucky to have the guys that have been loyal to us for so long. Going back 5 years ago we still have 7 guys on the roster 8 if you include myself. So the core guys have really been the reason why we are still here. It's easy to think about next year every year when you know the guys are committed already. The second is Chris Moonan's tireless work ethic to try and make this team better. Over the course of one off season we could probably fill a whole roster in the BDSL with guys that we tryout. So loyalty, and Moonan's persistence are definitely are 2 biggest attributes. That and we're a lot of fun to hangout with.
BDSL: No debate there! So while you guys have been around the club for a while creating continuity, I believe that your teams style has evolved a lot over the years. How do you view your side over the years to what you have built to now?
PACK: I think we've always had a pretty stout defense and forwards that were fast. Going back over the years I think that was why we had the success we did. We could counter attack well against anyone with our speed up top, and we were going to make you pay physically if you entered our zone. Some might call it cheap or choppy and we didn't care. We just wanted to win. That started to change once we came up to Championship in 2013. We knew we couldn't play that way and still have the success we had the years before, and we were right. So we really put an emphasis on playing a more controlled/possession and ground attack approach, as well as clean up our game in our own end. Adding the skill that we did over the last couple years has really helped us become the team we are today and have more of an identity in that respect. I’m happy with the steps we've taken to get better, and we're having a lot more fun as a team again too. We had 2 bad years and realized what we needed to do to compete, and try and win. I think we are a team that can compete with anyone in the division again, now we're just trying to jump that final hurdle and add another piece of Silverware to our self.
BDSL: The evolution you outline there is interesting. You made some big splashes in the offseason. How do these new piece fit in and what does it mean we'll see from you guys style wise this season?
PACK: I think the new guys are going to have a big role, especially in the middle of the field. They are big and know what to do with the ball at their feet, but more importantly can win balls in the air for us. We are still going to be aggressive, but are looking to win the possession battle and dictate the tempo of the game. I think you'll see a lot of what you did last year, try and control the game, and being physical on the ball. As I said before we prided ourselves on our defense. So it's starts there for us and moves up field. And I think the new guys will help us more up field as well as in our zone. One thing I will say is the talent in the league makes it very difficult to do what you want to on a weekly basis. I think the championship division may be the most balance division from top to bottom. Kudos to the league on making this a competitive division, and not much separation from top to bottom.
BDSL: I think Championship should once again be very competitive. I'm curious to know how you guys handle your indoor sessions. Do you think it’s been an important part of your growth too? Have you used that as a recruiting tool? Or is it more of your time to play relaxed soccer with friends who might now suit up for your side in BDSL?
PACK: We usually take the first session off to take a breath. But outside of that we use the time to try different guys out that are interested in joining us. Most of the guys are pretty active in the offseason playing indoor and coed on other teams, so we take the guys we can and plug the rest of the roster with "prospects". But we definitely like to get all the guys together at least the last 4-6 weeks of indoor to gear up for summer. Especially the newer guys to try and build a little chemistry together. The last 2 years we definitely relied heavy on indoor to try and get guys to join us. This year was a little different. We definitely still used that time wisely, but we had a lot more guys interested in wanting to join us this year, so it made the off season a lot easier.
BDSL: What do you think made you guys an attractive destination this year vs years past?
PACK: I'm think it has to do with how we are playing now as a team verses the way we've played in years past. I think the Tehel cup semi finals against Rogue last year played a big role. It was honestly the best game we played all year in a losing effort none the less, and how we played in the month of July. We got hot. After that Tehel cup game both teams hung out at Pitch Bar for a couple hours. We got to know each other a little bit and it just took off. We had an absolute black that night! They found out first hand how much fun we have together, and think they thought they could help us get over the hump, and have a lot of fun doing it. Also getting some of these guys to commit to us helped bring on some of the other guys that are joining. So I really think it came down to just trying to build a winner, and having a lot of fun doing it. For 90 minutes most teams probably hate our guts. But if you hang out with us after the game, you'll find out we're just a bunch of guys that are a lot of fun to hand out with too.
BDSL: So based on all this I'd assume that promotion is the goal here for the Pack. Would you agree with that?
PACK: Absolutely agree with that. We definitely don't want to be on the side of relegation haha. But I think promotion is a goal. I think we have a few goals we would like to achieve this year, but the most realistic goal is gaining promotion. It’s not going to be easy, but we're a confident bunch this year. Not that we weren't in years past, but our confidence level is the highest it's ever been right now.
BDSL: Let's talk about your team and the Tehel Cup. I think it's fair to say you guys are somewhat of a Cup threat. In years past you've always been a tough out and have even managed to claim several large Tehel Cup upsets making two quarterfinal appearances. Is this due to a focus on the Cup or maybe the underdog role suits you guys well?
PACK: Both for sure. It helps that we get a good number of guys for those games too. I'd say we treat the Tehel Cup just like the regular season. We hate to lose no matter what game or season it is we're playing. And we definitely feed off the underdog role. But I think we'd rather be the underdog going into it than being the favorite. Not that I can think of too many times we've been favored to win, but I think we always play tough especially against the premier clubs. We like the challenge, and still feel we have a lot to prove to the league. What better way to prove it than to beat a premier club? Tehel Cup has been pretty good to us. Whether it's been luck or commitment I don't know, maybe both. But Tehel Cup is definitely something we get excited for and something we would love to get our name on.
BDSL: If you had to play for another team in the league who would it be and why?
PACK: No question Yemen Elite if I had to. I love what Faress has done with that club. And I have a lot of great memories at the Cage. I love a passionate, rowdy and hostile environment to play at. The Cage has been the only real place that offers home field advantage with the crowds they draw. And it's been that way since as far back as I can remember.
BDSL: The Cage is a memorable place to play each and every time for sure. Well be nice when its back in the rotation. If you could change add or do something different within the league what would you do or suggest?
PACK: If I could add anything I would try and add a women's division. If I could change anything it would be from allowing any team from playing on Field E at WSSC. And as I've suggested before an interview with the person or persons behind BDSLGIFS. I think that an interview everyone's dying to read!!
BDSL: Anything we didn’t touch on you want to add here?
PACK: Hope everyone has fun this year, and you can meet us at Rusty Buffalo in West Seneca after every game! Good luck to all teams in all divisions. AAAAOOOOUUUU!!!