Fans elect Vermont native as Frost Heaves first coach
Posted: Saturday April 15, 2006 2:12PM; Updated: Saturday April 15, 2006 2:12PM
Will Voigt has guided the Ulriken Eagles of Norway's top professional division to the playoffs in each of his three seasons.
University of Texas Athletics Photography
Alexander Wolff will periodically answer questions from SI.com users in his mailbag.
When he heard that we were looking for a coach, an NBA buddy of mine called to say, "Kevin Loughery is available." (Old joke.) Instead, the Vermont Frost Heaves ventured into terra Internet-cognita last week, putting two fresh finalists to a vote of our fans.
The process went more smoothly than we could have imagined. Members of our on-line community, the Bump in the Road Club, after reviewing bio details and personal statements from each, chose Will Voigt, a Vermont native who has logged a winning record during three seasons in Norway's top pro league, over Rus Bradburd, a former Don Haskins assistant who won an Irish Super League title in 2004.
Fan after fan e-mailed me after casting ballots, and everything they had to say confirmed for me that we'd done the right thing in trusting the people. Here's a sampling:
"Wow. Two awesome candidates ... it was tough to choose only one."
"What an impossible, wrenching decision that was."
"What I like about both of these guys is that they are different in a good sense of the word. So much of the time ... the 'mother lode' is head coach at a big-time school. Not so with these guys, and it's refreshing."
"Can't go wrong."
"Two fabulous candidates and to both I can wish the best. Makes me feel good about professional sports."
Those who voted for Bradburd liked "his evocative words about the role of sports in effecting social change," how he "gets it," and his naming Wendell Ladner as his favorite original ABA player -- "although Gerald Govan or Glenn Combs really would have been the trick." But in the end, Voigt was the clear choice of Bump Club members, 739 of whom cast ballots -- a 61 percent participation rate that is better than any recent presidential election or, I'm going to guess, town meeting in Cabot, Vt., where Will grew up.
To get word of the fans' choice to our new coach, I phoned him on Thursday at a cellphone number in Europe. He had thought he was bound for Prague that day. But Nigerian consular officials had his passport so he could get properly papered up for a forthcoming trip to a big man's camp in Africa. When customs agents at the Munich Airport looked at his temporary transit papers, they went all Achtung. As Will had alerted me in an e-mail, "My life has become a scene from The Terminal."
I wound up reaching him as he disembarked a train in Copenhagen, where he had been permitted to go, and told him he would be the first coach of the Vermont Frost Heaves.
"I needed some good news today," he said.
I'm pleased to report that the team and its coach-elect have agreed to terms.
Voigt, who's now 29, apprenticed under Gregg Popovich as video coordinator for the San Antonio Spurs. He spent a season at Texas as an aide to Rick Barnes. And he led the Ulriken Eagles to the playoffs in each of his three seasons there.