If you’ve ever attended a Brock Badgers basketball game over the past three seasons, you’ve probably seen William Gatchalian. He’s the guy in a suit with black hair and round glasses, usually holding a clipboard, sitting on the bench with the rest of the coaching staff.
William has worked with the Badgers basketball program — in some capacity or another — since he essentially stepped foot on campus four years ago. He has acted as the men’s team’s Operations Coordinator and Performance Analyst for the past three seasons, but got his initial start with the women’s team, as part of his eight hours of volunteer work required for SPMA 1P92, a required first-year sport management class.
“I reached out to [former men’s head coach] Charles Kissi and funnily enough he said he didn’t have anything for me, but the women’s coach emailed me back and said I could film their practices for an hour every day for a month,” said Gatchalian. “That would get me my hours and get me some experience so I took it on and he was kind of impressed by my commitment. About a week later we had a conversation, and he said I could be the film coordinator for the year. He basically told me, ‘I don’t usually take on first-years,’ and I said, ‘I’m not like other first-years, you don’t have to worry about me.’ The rest is kind of history.”
After spending a year as the film coordinator for the women’s team under then-head coach Si Khounviseth, an opportunity arose on the men’s side, as the previous operations coordinator, Casey Montambault, had graduated.
“Once Casey left I kind of got thrown in that position,” said Gatchalian. “I ran operations kind of not knowing what I was doing and I’ve been running operations ever since. I’ve gotten much better at it, but that first year was interesting — especially going off to nationals, all the road trips we went on, it was a tough year and Charles definitely had high expectations of me, but he really only pushed me to become better. I really do owe a lot to him because he gave me that first shot at running operations.”
The Badgers men’s team made it to the U Sports Final 8 Tournament in 2018, ultimately falling to the eventual-champion Calgary Dinos in the quarterfinals. That ended up being Charles Kissi’s final season at the helm of the Badgers, as he left to take a position with the Raptors 905. Madhav Trivedi was hired on an interim basis for the 2018-19 season. The Badgers made it to the OUA Final Four during Trivedi’s lone campaign, before Willy Manigat was hired this past summer as the full-time head coach.
Much like the players have had to navigate three head coaches in three years, William has also had to build a rapport with each new head coach. He says his reputation helped ease the transition from Kissi to Trivedi.
“I had been well established coming into the season with [Trivedi] last year, I was kind of set in my role, and Charles was still around because it was so late in that transition,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot of different things from each coach that I’ve worked with and it’s been interesting; regardless of whatever field you work in, you’re going to find different personalities. Willy, Madhav and Charles are all very different and I’ve learned a lot from each one of them and I’ve had a great time along the way.”
William’s experience helped him land a position with Canada Basketball this past summer, coordinating operations for both the junior and senior men’s national teams. He says he’s honed his skills more so than ever over the past year.
While he initially only ran operations for the men’s team, William became involved with the women’s team once Mike Rao took over the program in the summer of 2018.
“Coach Rao was an assistant with Kissi for two years, so he was around me and knew what I was about,” said Gatchalian. “My list of responsibilities doesn’t stop at operations, I like to say my role is whatever the team needs of me, whether that’s on the court rebounding balls, whether it’s operations or whether it’s recruiting. One thing I do is organize recruiting visits, and Rao really liked the way that I did that so he brought me on board to help him out with recruiting last year.”
“I helped out with the women’s team again this year, and obviously when the ladies were making their run and nationals became a real possibility, Rao and I had a conversation. Him knowing that I’ve been to nationals before, I’ve ran operations there, I know what type of operations are required at that level, and I said, ‘if you need me there I will be more than happy to go with you,’ and he just said, ‘yeah I want you there.’ He just wanted to focus on coaching, as he should, so I took care of all the other stuff.”
The word ‘operations’ can seem broad in terms of one’s role, and rightfully so, as the umbrella of responsibilities that falls under people like William covers a wide variety of tasks. From organizing transportation, to ensuring team meals are delivered on time, his duties cover virtually everything a team needs to succeed off the court as much as they do on it.
“We had a fantastic team of people around us at nationals,” said Gatchalian, speaking about the Badgers recent trip to the Final 8 in Ottawa last weekend. “My role in the grand scheme of things was overarching operations, so transportation, technical meetings, I was our sport information officer too, so I acted as the lead contact between the host committee and the coaching staff. I built our day-to-day itineraries and organized team meals, but we also had Ginny Cape on site who is the women’s team manager, so she took care of more of the on-hand stuff with the ladies, which I do with the men. But just getting extra shots up, doing laundry, she did a fantastic job of that so I could just focus on those overarching things.”
While William’s plate was full for the entire season, his time with the Badgers almost came to an end after last year.
“I wasn’t intending on returning to the teams this year,” he said. “I thought I had done it all, and then I just ended up doing it and I didn’t know why. But as I look back on my career and why I decided to come back it had everything to do with the team. I had made real relationships with real people and I couldn’t leave my guys high and dry like that, I couldn’t leave Rao high and dry. I knew I could provide value for them, especially for seniors Tyler Brown and Mitch Saunders, and on the women’s side, Melissa Tatti and Jess Morris.”
“It was no longer about me,” he continued. “I realized at the beginning I wanted to get as much experience as I can, but as I’ve gone through I realize it’s about the players and helping them get to the next place and that’s kind of why I agreed to come back. I just think it’s an important message to share, if you do the right things for the right reasons, things pay off.”
William generally keeps a low profile, hanging behind the scenes and doing the best job that he can in order to help the team.
“A lot of people don’t know much about me, they just see me around, which I’d like to keep that way,” he said. “I just float in the background and move anonymously, but there’s a reason why I am where I am today, and it’s just because, you do the right things for the right reasons and stuff works out at the end.”
William is set to graduate in June, thus ending his time with the programs.
“I’m really happy with how my time at Brock ended — obviously it would’ve been nice to have a medal on both the men’s and the women’s side, but I’m really happy with how things ended up,” he said. “Working with Brock basketball has provided me with so many opportunities and no matter where I go, Brock basketball will always be, sort of my origin story and where this journey started. I owe everything to this program.”