A Grey Cup champion and an all-time Canadian football great is returning to the league where it all started.
Andrew Harris has been named the new head of football operations for the V.I. Raiders of the Canadian Junior Football League, the Nanaimo club announced in a press release Friday, Feb. 10.
The Raiders say Harris will return to the club with a five-year contract and is earmarked to be the head coach of the team starting in 2024.
“My five years in Nanaimo as young player were pivotal for my training and football career,” Harris said in the release. “I want to take this passion that I have for the sport and build something great for these young up-and-coming players and of course win some championships.”
Harris was part of three national championship teams with the Raiders in 2006, 2008 and 2009. He went on to star in the Canadian Football League and won Grey Cups with the B.C. Lions, Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Toronto Argonauts.
Kabel Atwall, Raiders president, said the Harris got an offer from the Argos that enticed him to play one more season, so he will appoint an interim coach for 2023.
Curtis Vizza announced earlier in the off-season that he was stepping down as coach, but general manager Josh Williams remains in the GM role, working with associate general manager Shawn Arabsky.
The Raiders are coming off a 1-9 season that Atwall said “was so bad, it was good,” in that it forced the organization to address its direction. Atwall said he was half-joking when he offered Harris the coaching job, but the CFL star showed interest and things happened organically from there.
Dave Shortill of Orca Wealth and Insurance Services of Ladysmith has offered Harris a career opportunity outside of football, Atwall said, which made the junior football opportunity possible.
“Andrew has been a proven winner throughout his career and it is anticipated that he will continue to be so in his new role,” the team president said. “Andrew will be a great ambassador for the team, he will have a great rapport with players, coaches, recruits, and board members and our treasured fans.”