Willms returning to Providence as athletic director


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The Providence Pilots have a new director of athletics, and he is a familiar face.

Russell Willms graduated from the college in 2001, and the school’s seminary in 2004. He played for the Pilots’ men’s soccer team, and helped coach the women’s team while studying.

After graduating, Russell worked as an assistant coach at the University of Manitoba until 2007, when he was hired as Canadian Mennonite University’s director of athletics and men’s soccer coach.

Russ Willms played for the Providence Pilots and helped coach the women's team during his time as a student. Now he returns as the Pilots' athletics director. (Kevin Friesen Providence College)

While at CMU, Russell was a key figure in introducing futsal to the Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference (MCAC), and it has been played ever since. He also helped the CMU basketball teams join the Northern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, which Providence also play in. He also represented the conference at the national level

“We are thrilled to have someone with Russell’s experience and proven success to lead our athletics program,” Providence operations vice president Scott Masterson said in a news release.

“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, Canadian Colleges Athletic Association, and USports will also make this a seamless transition and we are looking forward to the positive impact and leadership that Russell will bring to the Providence Pilots.”

Masterson was the previous athletics director at Providence.

In 2021, Russell left Manitoba to take a position at the University of B.C. Okanagan, and is now returning to the keystone province.

“As a Providence alumnus, I have keenly watched the growth and success of the Pilots programs, especially over the past decade, and I am excited to contribute to the Providence tradition and the wide-stretching community impact that the Pilots have,” Willms said.

Willms isn’t the only new face at Providence, as they hired former Brandon University coach Phil Dixon to head up the men’s volleyball team. Dixon had been coaching professionally in Denmark since 2020. The program is also looking for a women’s volleyball coach and new men’s soccer coach.

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