OTTERBURNE, MB – The Providence Pilots are excited to announce the hiring of Russell Willms as the new director of athletics. Willms is a Providence alumnus, graduating from the University College with a Bachelor of Arts in Church Ministries (2000) and from the Seminary with a Master of Arts in Bible & Theology (2004). While studying at Providence, he was a member of the men’s soccer team.
“We are thrilled to have someone with Russell’s experience and a proven record of success to lead our athletics program. Russell is very familiar with our institution and athletics program and will bring a lot of energy and vision to the department. His experience within the MCAC, CCAA, and USports will make this a seamless transition. We are looking forward to the positive impact and leadership that Russell will bring to the Providence Pilots,” says Vice President Operations, Scott Masterson.
Following his studies at Providence, Willms became an assistant coach for the women’s soccer program at the University of Manitoba from 2003 to 2007. He was hired by the Canadian Mennonite University in 2008 to take over as the director of athletics and the head coach of the men’s soccer team. He remained the head coach until 2018 and was the director of athletics until 2021.
While leading the CMU athletics program, he launched the 2014 Copa de la Paz Futsal Tournament, which introduced futsal to the Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference (MCAC), now an officially sponsored sport. Willms was a part of the leadership team who successfully brought the MCAC to the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA). He served as a MCAC representative on the CCAA Board of Directors. Willms also served as vice president technical in the MCAC from 2016 to 2021. In 2017, he entered the Blazers basketball teams into the Northern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (NIAC) where they and the Pilots remain today.
When Willms left CMU in 2021, he returned home to BC for a position at the University of British Columbia Okanagan. AT UBCO, he oversaw the overall student-athlete experience and the aspects that contributed to the high-performance side of their varsity sports. This included athletic therapy, strength and conditioning, nutrition and mental performance as well as sport scheduling.
“I am happy and proud to have the opportunity to return to Providence and to step into this role. As a Providence alumnus, I have keenly watched the growth and success of the Pilots programs, especially over the past decade,” says Willms. “I am excited to contribute to the Providence tradition and the wide-stretching community impact that the Pilots have.”
Scott Masterson, now the VP Operations at Providence, will oversee Russell Willms and the athletics program. The pair have worked closely together to grow the MCAC which is now a national member of the CCAA. Both are widely respected in their leadership across collegiate sport in Manitoba. Together they will continue to grow Providence athletics into a leading program in the CCAA.
Russell Willms becomes the fifth director of athletics in Providence’s history.