Top Stories

Will Voigt Rumors

When he got to Bakersfield for that D-League assignment, he stayed put in the hotel because the coaches asked him to. The Jam arena is in the Bakersfield neighborhood of Oildale, a central California town long known for its extreme poverty levels and permeating drug issues. The town had its own unofficial “Heroin Alley.” So when Gobert arrived, former Jam coach Will Voigt just told him to relax, watch TV, watch film and, when possible, work out at the basketball facility. “That would be a culture shock to just about anybody, let alone a Parisian,” Voigt said. “He was not going to find a croissant and an espresso anywhere around there.”
Many of Voigt’s players paid for their own flights (and most flew coach) and accommodations. Playing for Team Nigeria is a complete commitment, and Voigt, who is no longer under contract, is hoping that the country will invest more money into the basketball program. “It’s pretty well known we didn’t receive any support. We did this on our own,” Voigt said. “We’ve faced hardships as a team that other teams in our group couldn’t even fathom. The fact that they can get here and be as competitive as they were, I think it speaks volumes to them. “Just something as simple as having food for our players and having a flight to where they’re going and having insurance for our top players may be a huge swing in terms of what we do. I’m just trying to catch my breath, to be honest. We understand that’s not necessarily where the country is right now, but even the smallest level of support can reap huge rewards for what we can do.”
What’s next for Voigt? Nigeria assistant coach John Bryant says Voigt should be coaching in the NBA. Bryant knows what it takes – he’s an assistant coach with the Philadelphia 76ers. “He can coach at any level. I say that without hesitation,” Bryant said. “He should be in the NBA right now of his work ethic and knowledge of the game.”
But those are a just a few interesting details among many of Will Voigt’s global journey from rural Vermont to the Rio Olympics. The son of a Pulitzer Prize finalist in poetry and MacArthur genius (his mom Ellen) and founder of a culinary school (his dad Fran), Voigt has coached in Norway, Denver, Austin, Texas, Bakersfield, Calif., China, Nigeria and Barre, Vt., the one-time home of the minor-league Vermont Frost Heaves. “I’ve been fortunate to have had these opportunities,” Voigt said. “I didn’t set out with a blueprint of how do I get to China? How do I get to Norway? How do I get to Nigeria? It just presented itself. I certainly wasn’t afraid of going somewhere different. The way it’s played out, I don’t think I could have ever predicted.”
Storyline: Olympic Games
The Spanish players noticed the empty crowd while warming up, but weren’t aware what caused it. Inspectors had determined the game could start as scheduled and allowed media and volunteers — who weren’t informed of the situation — to remain in the building while the ticket holders were kept outside. Nigeria coach William Voigt had been briefed, but said it wasn’t the reason for his team’s slow start. “I decided not to really say anything to anyone else,” he said. “I didn’t want it to be a distraction, but I knew and certainly when whatever was detonated went off I think it was something everybody noticed.”
Storyline: Olympic Games
Sometimes even Will Voigt himself can scarcely believe he’s coaching on an Olympic stage in the same tournament as Mike Krzyzewski. Voigt is the head coach of the Nigerian national basketball team, an improbable but hard-earned job for a basketball nomad who has refused to allow a modest playing career to derail his coaching ambitions. “I don’t think I could have ever predicted this,” Voigt said. “It’s hard not to realize the significance when you walk into the Opening Ceremony. I think I’ll have time to reflect on it when we get out of here and I’m not in work mode, but there’s no way I could have seen this coming.”
Storyline: Olympic Games