Hawk assistant coach Niki Budalic southbound to ‘gulf state’



(Photo by Nick Lachance)
(Photo by Nick Lachance)

Niki Budalic is taking the next step in his soccer career.

The assistant coach of the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawk men’s and women’s team was hired as the assistant general manager of MLS team, Orlando City SC.

The deal with Orlando SC closed late last week and came about quite quickly.

Budalic started his new position with Orlando City effective January 25.

Head coach Barry MacLean of the women’s soccer team worked with Budalic for seven years as a coach, and coached Budalic back in 2001 when he played for the men’s soccer team.

He said that it wasn’t much of a shock Budalic was hired by Orlando City.

“It was just something we had been working on, and it’s come to fruition,” he said.

“It’s a great opportunity for him and it’s one I’m excited about for him.”

MacLean said he and Budalic started talking to Orlando City in the beginning of January and from there it moved fairly quickly, finalized late last week.

Budalic has been extremely involved with the Hawks as a coach and as an athlete, picking up many accolades, including two Ontario University Athletics championships as a coach with the women’s soccer team and a Canadian Interuniversity Sport championship with the men’s soccer team in 2001.

Budalic was also nominated as an OUA first-team all-star in 2001 and 2002. The former coach also played for the Montreal Impact, the Toronto Lynx as well as clubs in Norway and Sweden.

“He’s had a decent soccer career as a player. He helped us at one of the high points in Laurier men’s soccer,” MacLean said.

As a coach, Budalic helped lead the squad to an overall record of 76-14-16. During this time, Budalic was an influential member in the decision-making process with MacLean in regards to training sessions and was one of the keys in recruiting. Budalic also coached with Mario Halapir, head coach of the men’s soccer team for four years. MacLean has known Budalic for most of his life, and said he’s a “very smart, good soccer guy.”

“He’s been a very loyal, honest, hard-working kid that’s intelligent in the way he’s done things,”        MacLean said.

“This was a great opportunity for him and one that we both discussed and thought it was the right thing for him in his career advancement.”

Budalic also worked alongside MacLean as the director of operations for K-W United Football Club, a squad playing in the Premier Development League, where MacLean is the president. Budalic was with the club when they won their first PDL championship in 2015.

“He’s been great over the years,” MacLean said. “He’s been one of the keys in our recruiting, he’s been an influential member in decision-making and our training sessions. ‘He’s been a guy in some interesting involvement, not really looking at an assistant more like the co-coach.’”

“He did a great job all the way through.”

Budalic couldn’t be contacted for comment.

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