Former Cambrian College assistant soccer coach Jon Hussak is just about as far removed, as possible, from the winter freshness of a January weekend in northern Ontario, hitching his saddle these days in southern Texas, on the shores of the Rio Grande, where he is now preparing to tackle his latest challenge.
Just a few weeks ago, the 32 year old Sudbury native, who grew up playing competitive soccer with the Panhellenic Soccer Club and would cut his teeth, from a coaching perspective, with the Greater Sudbury Soccer Club, was named as the new head coach of the women's soccer team at Texas A & M International in Laredo, Texas.
Leaving Sudbury slightly less than a decade ago, initially for a teaching post in the Northwest Territories, Hussak would make his way south of the border, eventually securing an assistant coaching position with the University of West Florida, home to legendary soccer mentor Joe Bartlinski, one of the winningest coaches in NCAA history.
"It just makes so much sense, the way that he does it, from recruiting to tactics, to how he sees the game and reads the game and understands it," said Hussak. "I took a lot from him, just because he involved me so much. To be able to sit on the sidelines, in the chair next to him, and to hear the coaching points that he makes, during a game, and the talk back and forth between the staff - there was something to be taken out of everything."
"There is a culture at West Florida that is unlike anywhere else."
But having spent two years in Pensacola (Florida), Hussak acknowledged the timing for the ascension to a head coaching role felt right. "It wasn't one of those situations where I absolutely needed to leave," said the graduate of Lockerby Composite. "It was more of a situation where I felt that I could be successful as a head coach now, especially at Division II."
"I was ready to take on my own program and kind of make a name for myself, and kind of brand myself, as a coach."
With two young children at home (Sophie turns four in March, about the same time Felix turns one), however, Hussak needed one final approval, prior to uprooting his family virtually from one coast to the other.
I don't think I would be able to do this without Kristen (his wife)," he said. "She is incredible when it comes to being understanding, whether I am off recruiting, or showing someone around campus, or off running training sessions. She doesn't skip a beat."
"With a wife who is super supportive in everything I do, I think I am very lucky, in that sense," Hussak added. "It takes a special breed of spouse to be able to do the things that she does."
Noted as having developed "a reputation as a tireless recruiter" in the media release issued by Texas A & M International, Hussak suggested there is no secret magical formula to success, in that regard.
"It's a willingness to be able to grind it out," he stated. "Getting on the recruiting trail is tough. It's not just getting eyes on players, it's about establishing relationships with clubs and coaches and other schools, junior colleges."
"And it doesn't stop on the field," Hussak added. "It can get tiring, it can be tough, being away from your family, but you've got to be willing to go that extra mile to find that player who could make a difference in your program."
As for the road that lies ahead, Hussak is more than prepared to hit the ground running. ""It's a program that has a lot of potential," he said, addressing the future of TAMIU women's soccer, home to the Dust Devils.
"There's a good foundation in terms of a staff and returning players. It was very easy to say yes."