By Phil Skeggs
Ivanhoe AFC’s drought-breaking Division 2 premiership mentors have swapped roles for season 2023.
Senior coach Ash Close has accepted a coaching job with Eastern Ranges women’s NAB Cup team, but has committed to remaining as a playing assistant coach for Ivanhoe in Division 1.
Dual D2 best and fairest Wayne Schultz, who has been working as assistant coach (midfield) for Carlton’s AFLW team, has been appointed as senior coach.
Ivanhoe president Peter Rawley said the committee was pleased to retain the Close and Schultz partnership that delivered great results in 2022.
“What Ash has done for our club is immeasurable. Not only did he lead the senior men’s team to their first premiership in 53 years, but he has done this via re-shaping the culture and work ethic of everyone involved,” he said.
Rawley praised Schultz as a “natural leader and an amazing teacher of the game”.
“You only have to look at Wayne’s decorated CV, inclusive of back-to-back VAFA competition B&F medals in the past two seasons, to understand he is a great player. But what external people don’t see is that Wayne is an amazing teacher of the game, something that Ash has had at his disposal over the past couple of years to fast-track the development of our playing group.”
Schultz, who was named in the centre in the VAFA’s D2 Team of the Year and best-on-ground in the grand final, said he was looking forward to coaching Ivanhoe.
“We have an outstanding bunch within this playing group and I’m looking forward to working with everyone once again,” he said.
“Ash Close has done a superb job with his role as coach and he has certainly set incredible foundations for us since his return to the club. This has allowed for such a smooth coaching transition to take place into next season and I thank Ash for that.”
Close is rapt to continue his partnership with Schultz at Ivanhoe and has no qualms about passing the baton as coach.
Close, who scored 71 goals in 13 games this year, was named by the VAFA as the coach and full-forward in the D2 Team of the Year. He is keen to play a full season in 2023.
“I plan to keep playing as long as my body will let me. I’ve always believed you are forever retired so I’m keen to keep going when work allows me to play. I’m also looking forward to taking less of a role game day and focusing more on playing and coaching the forwards,” he said.
It was a tough decision for him to leave Collingwood, where he was forwards development coach this year. But he’s excited by the prospect of coaching the Eastern Ranges Under 19 girls.
“I’ve always had a strong passion for development – whether it be at Ivanhoe or Collingwood – and I’m looking forward to a new challenge working in the NAB league with the Eastern Ranges Under 19 girls,” he said.
“Obviously it was sad to leave Collingwood after 10 years of work but I’ve made lifetime friends and left on really great terms and plan to stay in touch with everyone. I’m sure you’ll still see the Ivanhoe-Collingwood relationship continue.”
The Hoers are also seeking another senior assistant coach to replace Nick Carlyon, who has stepped away from coaching after four years in the role to spend more time with his family.