“We’re both pretty excited”, Dirks joins Kozun in Nipawin as assistant coach with Hawks

Dana Dirks agreed to a two year assistant coaching job with the Nipawin Hawks. --Photo courtesy of Dana Dirks, Nipawin Hawks

When Nipawin Hawks head coach and general manager Tad Kozun asked Dana Dirks if he would like to join the team as an assistant coach, it was an offer Dirks simply couldn’t refuse. He joins the team after agreeing to a two year assistant coaching gig.

For Dirks, it’s about more than just being able to be back behind a hockey bench again. It’s about getting the chance to reunite with Kozun, who Dirks recruited as a player in his time with the Prince Albert Mintos in the 2010-11 season. Now, the tables have turned, as it was Kozun’s turn to recruit Dirks. The relationship the two have grown over the years made it a hard offer for Dirks to turn down.

“I’ve got a long history with Tad,” Dirks said. “We go way back to when he was a 16-year-old. I recruited him back then and we won a championship together in Prince Albert with the Mintos. I’ve always kept in touch with him and his brother. When he asked me to come on board this year, it was a no brainer for me, because you always want to work with good people. I think Tad is a great kid and he’s going to do a really good job in Nipawin. I’m happy to be a part of it.”

Dirks joined the Hawks towards the latter part of their 2021-22 season as an assistant coach. He says getting to work with Tad, combined with the attitude through the organization is a positive sign for things to come.

“From day one I was just treated fantastically by the organization,” he said. “At the end of the day, if people are treating you that good, you’re going to want to stick around.

“There’s always a lot of stuff that goes into a season. You could just see the passion throughout the whole organization. You can tell when a team is the right one to be a part of when you see the passion, and it just matches up with the way that I am and the way that I see things. Hopefully we can continue to build on that.”

Dirks has been heavily involved in the hockey scene in previous years. Aside from his stint with the Mintos, he spent time with the Prince Albert Raiders as a scout. He left the team after the 2018-19 season after the passing of his good friend Ron Gunville. Now that he’s back and doing what he loves in Nipawin, Dirks thinks his previous experiences will help him bring a lot to the table.

“I like to think that I have an eye for talent,” he said. “We’re going to work hard here. I don’t think we’re going to be an easy team to play against. Tad and I are on the same page with what we want the team to look like. We’re going to be looking for the right kind of players who want to be a Nipawin Hawk.”