The new head coach of the Canadian women's volleyball team may hail from Germany, but he has a "significant" Winnipeg connection.
Arnd Ludwig, who also goes by the nickname of Lupo, has signed a four-year contract and will attempt to guide the Winnipeg-based squad to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
He takes over from Naoki Miyashita, who resigned in August to accept a coaching position in Japan.
Ludwig, 41, should feel right at home in Winnipeg, as his wife is former University of Manitoba Bisons volleyball star Loriann Sawatzky. Ludwig was in Manitoba last summer and even finished second at the Super-Spike tournament, the national program's annual fundraiser.
"So he knows the work we put into the program," said John Blacher, Volleyball Canada's director of operations.
Ludwig also checked out a few of the women's team practices when he was in town, and he liked what he saw.
"I am looking forward to working with Team Canada and the challenge to reach London 2012," Ludwig said in a press release. "... The women have the potential to reach this goal."
Ludwig lives in Dresden, Germany, and is currently in his 10th season as a head coach in Germany's top professional women's league. He will finish the season there and start his new job in May, just prior to the women's team selection camp.
Ludwig was an assistant coach with the German women's squad from 1999 to 2002 and was on the staff when the Germans finished sixth at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney.
Blacher said it wasn't critical for the program to hire someone from within Canada. It was looking primarily for someone who had international experience.
"Obviously we would like to support homegrown coaching talent," he said. "However, we need to select the best coach for the program, regardless of where they're from."
Canada came close to qualifying for the 2008 Summer Olympics, losing to Cuba in a qualifying tournament final in December 2007. Their next goal is to qualify for the 2010 world championship, which happens this summer and doesn't giving Ludwig a lot of time.
"Our women are doing well. We need to continue that," Blacher said. "We obviously believe he's the guy who can continue that success."