By Phil Skeggs
IVANHOE’S quality new assistant coaches have all voiced enthusiasm and confidence about the club’s 2023 campaign.
The new senior men’s assistant coach is life member Leighton Pearce, the men’s reserves will be coached by a trio of experienced players Tim Constantinou, Jake Steele and Adrian Sargent, and the Ivies have been most fortunate to enlist Essendon AFLW star forward Fede Frew.
Leighton, who has previously coached the Ivies and Under 19s, was a brilliant midfielder and onballer in his playing days. He played 117 senior games in B, C and D grades during the mid to late 1990s and was a runner-up in the seniors B&F.
He was also an assistant coach with seniors and reserves under previous Ivanhoe coaches John Matthew and Doni Valkanis.
‘Leights’ is rapt that committee and the selection panel have given him another crack at coaching alongside Wayne Schultzand Ash Close.
“Obviously it’s a wonderful opportunity to work alongside Schultzy, Ash and the team. I’m looking forward to being back coaching at the club that I have loved being part of for the past 30 years,” he said.
“Moving up to Division 1 is a very exciting time for the club and I believe my diligent and competitive coaching style will assist the team continue to compete strongly in season 2023.
“Being reunited with the players I coached in the under 19s who have remained loyal to Ivanhoe is also something I’m excited about.”
Former Ivies champion Fede Frew is stoked about her new role alongside Ivies senior coach Ian Callahan.
“I am so excited to be helping out at Ivanhoe for the upcoming season. It was an honour to be asked to come down and be an assistant coach to the club that was the start of my footy journey,” she said.
“As long as I’ve known the club everyone is always so supportive and it’s been awesome to see the continued growth and investment in the Ivies program.
“I can’t wait to help out this year and am so thankful for the opportunity, especially working around my busy schedule, looking forward to meeting some new faces and spending more time at Ivanhoe Park!”
The reserves will benefit from the combined experience of Tim, Jake and Adrian.
Tim has played 54 games for the club since 2018, Jake has run out in 21 games since 2021, and Adrian has notched 22 games since 2019.
The trio has expressed great enthusiasm and understanding about their new role.
“I can’t think of anything more exciting than to take on the Development Squad coaching role alongside ‘Sarge’ and ‘Steelo’ next year and look forward to building on what was a great 2022 season,” said Tim.
“The club has built something very special over the last few years and it is very exciting to think about what the future holds for the playing group and club more widely.
“Not only has the club built a great culture and community here at Ivanhoe Park, but it welcomes players from all walks of life: whether they are learning the game for the first time, coming from another club, returning to the game after a long break, or just coming down for a kick with mates – IAFC welcomes everyone with open arms!
“This is one of the things that makes Ivanhoe so special. We have a great committee, great volunteers, a great playing group, and the club just attracts great people all round.
“I am a firm believer that footy is a metaphor for life and can’t wait to take on 2023 alongside such a great group of people both on and off the field. Bring on 2023!”
Tim, who has played 42 senior games and 12 in reserves mainly in defence, came to IAFC from Old Trinity for the strong junior connections and community at the club after a four-year break from playing footy.
He recalled: ”2018 and ’19 were rough years for the club, losing multiple games by over 100 points, but were years that built a resilience and appetite for success which, under the right conditions (incredible leadership from ‘Moose’, Nick, and Schultzy), made last year’s success all the sweeter.
“Outside of footy at IAFC, I love a cold-water swim, working on the veggie patch, and can’t resist a good souva – that pretty much sums me up. In terms of footy, it’s about the same: I can’t wait to take the plunge into season 2023 with the boys headfirst, to grow as a group, and grab a souva after.”
Jake, who has played four senior games and 17 in reserves, is pumped for the task ahead too. He said: “Tim, Adrian and myself are super pumped about taking on the role of coaching the development squad. We look forward to building on our finals appearance from last season and the success of the club as a whole!
“It’s important we continue to follow the processes we have built around the club the last couple of years and continue to make Ivanhoe not only successful on the field but making it a place where everyone feels welcome and a part of the club.
“I think this was a great achievement for the club and is a reminder of the value of strong leadership and the rewards of sticking out a challenge as a group and making it through to the other side. This is a lesson I will remember and live by in 2023.”
Adrian, a reserves stalwart, is 100 per cent on the same page as his co-coaches.
“The club has been moving in a positive trajectory for a few years now and we look forward to help keeping that in motion,” he said.
“I believe the group can really draw upon last season’s finals experience and use it as a launchpad to enter the season with confidence.
“There were many players who had their best season at the club last year and we believe if that constant improvement comes from the list we’re in a good position to tackle the season well.
“Tim, Steelo and I can’t wait to get to work and help improve all the players and help them achieve their football goals.”
Club president Peter Rawley outlined committee’s proactive approach to development of players and coaching.
“I’m really proud of what we are developing at Ivanhoe for not only our players, but also our coaches. We continue to think innovatively about how we can support the development of people in their coaching journey and to see them develop new skillsets and grow as people is something that gives us great joy and satisfaction,” he said.
“The club is absolutely thrilled to welcome Leighton back to coaching duties at Ivanhoe in season 2023 and look forward to supporting him in his ongoing development as a coach.
“Leighton has an incredibly impressive record as a coach through under 19s, reserves and as senior coach of our women’s program, so to now see him step into the senior men’s assistant role gives us great confidence that our group will continue to develop under his coaching philosophies.
“We trialed dual reserves coaches last year with Karl and Jacob and it worked really well, so to be fortunate enough to have three quality people leading our reserves men’s coaching in season 2023 is a wonderful position for our club to be in.
“The club could not be more thrilled in the appointment of Fede as the non-playing assistant coach of the Ivies in season 2023.
“To have one of our own return to the club to support the development of our women’s program, while still playing at the highest level, is an absolute bonus for everyone involved.”
Rawley was especially happy with the ability of the club to attract people back to the club and add to the quality of the coaching program.
“It’s another example of past players of our senior and junior clubs, who have made the elite level, returning to support the development and growth of the next wave of Ivanhoe players,” he said.
“We have a deliberate strategy as a club to provide quality coaching to people within our local area and that starts with quality people like Fede, Ash Close, Wayne Schultz and Scott Selwood who are or have been involved at the highest level.
“We would also like to thank the Ivanhoe Cricket Club and Ivanhoe Junior Football Club for their support and understanding in allowing us to get on Ivanhoe Park for pre-season.
“The respective committees of our two partner tenants have been absolutely fantastic in their support and partnership with us over the past 12 months and I can’t thank them enough in working with us to use the ground and facilities.”Pre-season training resumes for all teams on Mondays and Wednesdays at Ivanhoe Park from January 16, 6.30-8pm. Don’t forget to bring your runners. 😉