While there were plenty of moves over the TSL off-season, one of the biggest came off the field when North Launceston added the services of Jay Schulz.
The former Port Adelaide and Richmond star has taken over as the Northern Bombers’ Director of Coaching and Development after his family relocated to Tasmania.
While he admits it’s a new challenge, it’s also one that he’s deriving plenty of excitement from.
“It’s a new role for me, I’m usually used to coming in and spending the majority of my time with the senior side. So for me to come in and be the coach of the coaches I guess, I’m helping them and their development programs. Making sure that what the little kids are being taught falls in line with what the seniors are doing, so they can keep progressing in that way,” Schulz told The Inner Sanctum.
“It’s been really exciting personally, but I think I’m also helping the other coaches. Most junior coaches are volunteers and some are coaching for the first time, so they need a fair bit of guidance. That’s why I’ve been brought in.”
His responsibilities during the season will include touching base with each coach after every weekend and overseeing all the different grades.
“The focus for me coming in is that I’d try to get around a training session for every age group at least a couple of times a year, which I’ve been doing from the Under 9’s all the way through to the seniors,” he said.
In addition to his role at North Launceston, Schulz has brought the “Jay Schulz Kicking Academy” down to Tasmania, which has enjoyed great success.
“It’s been fantastic, really quite overwhelming actually. I do it four days a week and I’ve been booked out for a long time, I’ve got kids on a waiting list,” he said.
“That’s really great and that’s all just from the Bombers kids, I haven’t really put it out to the general public or anything. Because of all the Bombers kids coming through I haven’t really had to, but I will at some point.
“They’ve all been loving it and all the kids have been coming back.
I firmly believe that anyone, no matter the age, can improve their kicking. I’ve had about 70 kids from the time I’ve been doing it and they’ve all improved on some level.
I was known for being a good kick in the AFL, but something I realised after I stepped out is I could actually coach it as well. I actually thought about it and realised I did a lot more work on my kicking than what I originally thought when I was playing.”
When talking about how he’s found the set-up of the TSL, Schulz identified a potential Tasmanian AFL team as a key driver for helping football at all levels in the state.
“I really like the way the league’s set-up. Personally, I feel like when you’re talking about having an AFL side down here, I think it’s got massive merit for numerous reasons. I think it would stand up quite well, I think the general public wants it too,” he said.
“By doing that I think it would also help support the competitions below. I think there would a bit more time and money spent into the State League and from that the Amateurs would thrive as well.”
He cited the way it would engage young players as a key reason why it should happen.
“You’ve got kids coming through in the State League system and they need that AFL side here as something to engage in and be around. Just keeping the kids excited about footy and giving them something to strive for,” he said.
“I’m pretty confident it will happen at some point, I’m just not sure how the AFL will try and do it, but I think it would be really important for the state.”
North Launceston has a reputation of preparing players for the next level, with Tarryn Thomas (North Melbourne), Jay Lockhart (Melbourne) and Rhyan Mansell (Richmond) all recent products of the club, while Toby Nankervis (Richmond) was drafted back in 2013.
From his brief time at Northern Bombers, Schulz can see why some of their players make it to higher honours.
“I don’t really know how other (TSL) clubs do it, but North are definitely on the right path. The way they develop their juniors is great, which I guess is why they have such a high attendance rate. They do it really well and they’ve been doing it for a while, I’ve been really impressed coming in from the outside. Hopefully I’m only going to help further that,” he said.
While he will be playing for Old Launcestonians in the NTFA, Schulz confirmed that he won’t be pulling on the boots for North Launceston.
“My days playing at AFL and state level are done. My body’s been through a fair amount of work over the years, so I probably don’t think I’d be doing the Bombers any service at the moment. My head still says that I want to play, but my body’s telling me something different.”
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