A Sardis secondary grad is taking over as head coach of the University of the Fraser Valley’s men’s golf team.
Chilliwack’s Aaron Pauls is ascending to the top job, taking over from another Chilliwackian, Chris Bertram, who is moving into an advisory role.
Pauls joined the Cascades in 2009 as a walk-on, and went on to a storied career that saw him win four team MVP awards, a CCAA All-Canadian nod, and a CCAA individual silver medal in 2013 as part of the Cascades’ first national championship team. He represented Canada twice in international competition – at the 2014 World University Championships in Switzerland, and the 2015 Summer Universiade in South Korea.
Pauls graduated from UFV with a Bachelor of Kinesiology in 2014, and went on to earn his Masters in Kinesiology (motor behaviour) from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2016.
He rejoined the Cascades as an assistant coach the following year, and helped guide the men’s golf team to Canadian University/College, PACWEST, and Canada West championships.
“I got to know Chris very well, especially towards the latter end of my time at UFV when we traveled together for international events” Pauls said. “My time at UNLV deepened my interest in coaching, and coming home, that’s what I wanted to get into. I wasn’t playing golf competitively anymore, and I wanted something to invest my time into and to win at. Chris gave me a chance to help out, and it progressed from there.”
Abbotsford’s Cody Stewart takes the reins as head coach of the women’s team, following in the footsteps of yet another Chilliwackian, Jennifer Greggain. Greggain was recently hired by Golf Canada as assistant coach for the women’s national amateur team and young pro squad.
Bertram leaves behind an impressive legacy of success.
When he took over in 2005, the men’s team was simply trying to “find five people on campus who could get it around the golf course reasonably well.” In that first year, Bertram’s charges clawed their way to a BCCAA (now known as PACWEST) conference bronze medal, qualifying for the national championships in Windsor, Ont. And remarkably, on day one at nationals, the Cascades sat third overall.
While they faded to ninth, Bertram said that early taste of national success “lit a fire” in him.
The Cascades never again finished lower than second in the PACWEST for the rest of their tenure in the conference, which ended in 2018. The men’s squad earned seven conference titles (2008, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017 and 2018), while the women’s team, established in 2013, claimedPACWEST crowns in 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017.
The Cascades combined for 12 podium finishes at CCAA national championships, highlighted by men’s and women’s gold-medal sweeps in 2013 and 2017. At the 2018 Canadian University/College Championship, which brings together the nation’s top programs across all leagues, the men won gold and the women took bronze.
In 2019, the Cascades dominated the inaugural Canada West golf championships. The men took the gold in blowout fashion, finishing 19 strokes ahead of runner-up UBC, and the women won bronze.
In addition to those domestic triumphs, Bertram coached Team Canada at FISU (Fédération Internationale du Sport Universitaire) events on three occasions.
“It’s been really, really satisfying,” Bertram said. “We made a very conscious decision maybe eight years ago to embrace what I’d call a relationship-based culture for the team rather than an outcome-based culture. I’m a competitive person – I like to win. But what became clear to me was, talent alone will not win you championships – at least, not consistently.
“If you don’t have a group of players who want to go out and fight for each other and the coaches, the odds of you winning decrease substantially. That’s the secret we tapped into, and that’s what we’re trying to maintain to this day.”
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