From Cabot to the World: Will Voigt’s Basketball Journey
The first Vermont Frost Heaves head coach led Nigeria to the Olympics and now hopes to do the same with Angola.
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Cabot native Will Voigt was the first head coach of the Vermont Frost Heaves in the mid-to-late 2000s and led the Heaves to back-to-back ABA league titles in the team’s first two seasons.
Following a third year with Vermont, Voigt left in 2009 and spent five seasons as head coach of the Bakersfield Jam in the NBA’s Developmental League.
In 2015, after a year as an assistant coach for a pro team in China, Voigt was named head coach of the national team of Nigeria. That same year, Voigt led Nigeria to its first ever African championship...and with it, an automatic spot in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. Memories that will last a lifetime.
“To see the impact that had on their nation is something that I’ll carry with me for a long time. We visited the president, we went to their equivalent of the White House. Those type of opportunities are pretty special.”, says Voigt.
“And then certainly once we got to Rio (the 2016 Summer Olympics), the Opening Ceremony is amazing. To walk into that arena, with those caliber of athletes, and when you’re center stage on the world, it’s just an unbelievable experience.”
Nigeria beat Angola in the title game of that African championship tournament in 2015...and in 2017, Angola hired Voigt to lead their national team.
Since the pandemic hit in March, Voigt has been working from his home in Idaho, but keeping in contact with his national team and hopes to be able to return to Angola by the spring to begin final preparations for the qualifying tournament for the Tokyo Olympics, which is scheduled for early next summer.
From Cabot, Vermont, the sport of basketball, and Will’s hard work and dedication, has literally taken Voigt all over the world. He says he hopes his story can show others that big dreams can be achieved no matter how small or far away they may look at the start of the journey.
“Hopefully this can be some sort of inspiration for all those other small town kids in Vermont, whatever their aspirations are.”, says Voigt.
“I think we know, having grown up in those areas, that sometimes you’re fighting that to even just think beyond the state of Vermont.
I can remember what even just going to Burlington was like, ‘whoa, we’re watching UVM play’, or whatever it was. It was just like a different world.
So I think to know that these possibilities are out there, and can be achieved through hard work, I hope they’ll be more Vermonters along the way they follow that path.”
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