‘Coaching is a great way to continue your involvement with the sport of hockey once your years playing are over’

We often hear about how important seeing is believing for young athletes when it comes to women’s hockey. In an Olympic year, our young athletes are lucky enough to see more recognition of female hockey on television, and this year we even saw female hockey players on the Tim Horton’s Hockey Cards.

We can look at a player like Team Canada’s rising star, Sarah Fillier who started to believe she could be an Olympian because she saw women’s hockey on tv during the Olympics. This is the type of reality we want our athletes to believe in as well.

The Ice Boltz organization points out that often by the age of 14 girls are dropping out of sport at more than twice the rate of boys and not having fun is the top factor. Hockey Canada has seen a direct factor between hockey experiences created by women in coaching and leadership roles and the retention of girls in hockey.

This season the North Bay & District Girls Hockey Association has many female role models who its young athletes can look up too.

These members of our association grew up playing hockey at different levels, in different cities, and even different provinces, and they wanted to continue their hockey careers behind the bench. As an association we have many team staff who are female non-parent volunteers and are all passionate about growing the game of hockey. These individuals believe that they can show young female athletes that their hockey careers do not have to end when they stop playing, and that they can aspire to go on to accomplish big goals, such as playing for Team Ontario, a university/college team or Team Canada someday. If they can see it, they can be it. 

Kiara Jefferies, is the U11 Jefferies head coach, U7 fundamentals assistant coach and director of marketing/communications for the Ice Boltz.

Kiara is from Georgetown, Ont., and grew up playing hockey in North Halton. Since moving to North Bay in 2017 she has been an avid member of our association in our U7 program, U9 program and most recently our U11 program. Kiara became involved with the association to give back to a sport that she grew up playing and coaching back home. Kiara’s goals as a leader with the NBDGHA are to help grow the game of hockey and show young females that they belong in sport in all roles (players, coaches, trainers…etc.) and their hockey career does not have to end when they decide to stop playing. Kiara is currently in teachers’ college at Nipissing University.

Nicole Campbell is the U11 Jefferies assistant coach. Nicole wanted to take up a coaching role because she was so fortunate growing up to have great experiences with many of her hockey coaches. Nicole wanted to pass on what her coaches taught her and hopefully help the next generation of girls fall in love with the game as much as she did!

Nicole is a first-year student at Nipissing University, she played for the North Halton Twisters growing up but eventually moved to Brampton in her older years. One thing she wants to remind everyone who plays is make sure to take a step back and never be too hard on yourself, the most important part of hockey will always be to have fun no matter what level you play at. 

Natasha Resrup is the U11 Jefferies goalie coach. Natasha got involved because hockey was always a safe space for her. This inspired Natasha to want to provide that same experience for current and future players. Her goal is to help them grow and develop skills on and off the ice. Natasha would like to tell a current Ice Bolt that even when you stop playing, your hockey career doesn’t need to end. Natasha is currently studying Physical and Health Education at Nipissing University

Emma Shimizu is a U11A assistant coach. Emma started coaching after she stopped playing to teach youth that they can do whatever they put their mind to. As someone who loves the game, Emma wanted to be able to foster that same love for the athletes within our association.

“Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t succeed in the world of sport,” said Emma.  

The sport needs more female coaches! Having female leadership is so important for youth.” Emma is now playing ringette at Nipissing University.

Ruby Pilatzke is that U11 A trainter. Ruby knows how impactful female role models were for her when she was younger, so there is nothing better than combing that and her love for hockey. Ruby would tell current Ice Boltz to “100% do it!” and get involved with coaching! Ruby is currently studying at Nipissing University to become a teacher.

Madi Solie is the U9 Courville assistant coach. Madi has had such an incredible hockey career travelling all over Canada/US and just wanted to be able to share her passion, experience and knowledge of the game to inspire the younger generation of girls to set their goals in hockey and go after them. North Bay has been Madi’s home for the past five years and these young girls show up to the Nipissing Women’s Hockey games at Memorial Gardens and cheer their hearts out for her team as their inspirations and to be able to work 1:1 these girls and then they see their coach playing is a truly humbling feeling and experience. Women’s hockey in general needs to keep building one another up and Madi believes she has the power to add to this, through mentoring the younger female players, who hopefully will one day have increased opportunities to play professionally as a career.

Maddison Corbeil is the U9 Courville assistant coach. Maddison got involved in coaching to give back to the organization that helped her grow into the person she is today. Maddison remembers how she felt looking up to her female coaches when she was an Ice Bolt, the amazing role models they were for her, and she is hoping to inspire the young Ice Boltz of today in similar way. Maddison would tell a current Ice Bolt to absolutely get involved with coaching in the future if they’re interested. It’s a great way to continue to be part of the Ice Boltz family, give back to the organization that has taught you so much, and also use your hockey skills and knowledge in a different way from what you’ve been used to. It’s fun, challenging and extremely rewarding.

Eleonore Gravel is the U13A assistant coach and trainer. Eleonore’s involvement started as a 50-hour placement for the physical education program at Nipissing University. She quickly realized that she wanted to continue with the team as she developed a connection with the girls. Eleonore also believes it is important for young athletes to have a female and non – parent individuals on the team staff. We are often able to bring a different perspective to things while also being someone the girls can look up too. Eleonore grew up playing hockey within the Ice Boltz organization, during this time she had the chance of winning a gold and a bronze medal at provincials which is something she will never forget. Eleonore is forever thankful for the impact some of my coaches had on her development as an athlete and as an individual. She now believes it’s her my turn to give back and impact young hockey players like my coaches impacted her.

Laura McKenzie is the U18AA assistant coach Growing up playing minor hockey Laura was fortunate to experience many coaches who were positive role models and influential during her playing years. In Laura’s case, each of these role models were male;

Laura hopes to carry on the mentorship that her coaches have offered her and bring them to the players as a female coach.

“Coaching is a great way to continue your involvement with the sport of hockey once your years playing are over. It gives you a sense of belonging and brings back a competitive edge that sport can offer,” said McKenzie.

Laura is an alum of the Nipissing Lakers Women’s Hockey program where she served as an assistant captain and received PRIDE and USPORTS All-Canadian awards, and her team was nationally ranked.

Tarra Trudel is the U15AA assistant coach. Tarra is very much interested in growing our local female hockey players both in the sport of hockey and as people. Tarra says,

“Coaching is just a logical step in giving back to a game that gave so much to me,” said Trudel.  

“Moving from playing the game to coaching can be an intimidating step, but the rewards are well worth it. It allows you to look at the game from a different perspective, and gives you a chance to share your knowledge with the next generation to continue trying to grow the game.”