Program provides women coaches mentorship and major multi-sport games experience to help build capacity in their communities
CHARLOTTETOWN, PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND – Five female short track speed skating coaches are leaving the 2023 Canada Winter Games with valuable insights and experience thanks to the Women in Coaching Apprenticeship Program.
Emily Rendell-Watson (AB), Lauren Muzak Ruff (NS), Erika Bradley (PE), Madison Pilling (NT) and Hayley Roberts (NU) were provided the opportunity to attend these most recent Canada Winter Games thanks to the apprenticeship program, which is organized thought a partnership between the Canada Games Council and Coaching Association of Canada.
With support from a mentor coach, the young coaches selected for the Women in Coaching Apprenticeship Program are provided with meaningful national multi-sport games experience. They are directly involved in all aspects of the event, from training and preparation, to being in the coaches’ box for their athletes during the races.
While they have been working with their mentor coaches for the past year, Nunavut’s Hayley Roberts explains one of the best things about the Canada Winter Games has been meeting and interacting with the other female coaches in the apprenticeship program.
“This is my first time at Canada Winter Games, as either an athlete or a coach, and it has been great. There are a few of us from Speed Skating Canada in the apprenticeship program and we’ve had the opportunity this past week to learn from each other and talk about shared experiences, things like how training is going and how we are working towards getting our next level of certification.”Hayley Roberts (NU)
The value of these in-person learning opportunities is something echoed by Madison Pilling of the Northwest Territories, who skated at the 2015 Canada Winter Games in Prince George.
“Being on the other side of the boards at the Canada Winter Games has been an amazing experience. Getting to learn from all the other coaches and apprentice coaches this past week has been such an incredible opportunity. It’s something that is unique to the Games as you don’t typically have the same level of interaction between the coaches at other competitions.”Madison Pilling (NT)
One of the primary objectives of the various coach apprenticeship programs offered through the Canadian amateur sport community is to increase coaching capacity in underrepresented groups. As Pilling notes, having young female coaches involved in the sport can have many positive impacts.
“Representation is so important. Having a role model that you can see yourself in – a past athlete that moves into a female coaching role – is so valuable. It’s really cool to be able to show skaters that there is a future in this sport after they are done competing. It really matters who you have coaching you and when you have women in coaching positions, it is a little bit easier to get more female athletes involved.”Madison Pilling (NT)
As Roberts looks to grow as a coach, the objective remains to provide skaters from Nunavut a enriching experience in the sport.
“I am trying to become the best coach that I can be so that I am better equipped to help my athletes reach their potential, whatever that may be. I’m hoping for big things from the kids that will be representing Nunavut at the Canada Winter Games in four years.”Hayley Roberts (NU)
Thanks to the Women in Coaching Apprenticeship Program, there’s a good chance we will see coaches Roberts, Pilling, Rendell-Watson, Muzak Ruff and Bradley at future Canada Winter Games, leading the next generation of medal hopefuls.
The full list of PEI 2023 participants, including athletes and coaches from each province and territory, is available on Speed Skating Canada’s Canada Winter Games event page. Fans can re-watch both short track and long track races on-demand by visiting canadagames.ca/watch.