Dalhousie launched a new female coach development program this fall designed to provide support for the advancement of female assistant coaches through coach and peer development.
There are currently more than 20 female assistant coaches within Dalhousie’s seven sports and 14 teams, and all will be participating in the program in two different groups. Six lead assistant coaches will participate as Female Coach Apprentices, while the others will be part of a Peer Development Group.
Led by Cindy Tye, the associate director of athletics and women’s soccer head coach, the program will follow the Coaching Association of Canada’s Female Coach Mentorship Model. Head coaches will also provide support while covering topics including self-assessment, relationship-building, goal-setting, role clarification, implementation and on-going assessment and reflection.
The Coach Apprentices, Savannah Newton (women’s hockey), Marika Williams and Michele Tchiakoua (women’s basketball), Tessa Bulmer (women’s volleyball), Emily Clarke (cross country & track and field) and Jodi Langley (track & field) are all fulfilling the roles and responsibilities of assistant coaching duties with their respective varsity teams. They also have monthly meetings with their mentor and respective head coaches.
Along with the Peer Development Group, they will also participate in a monthly session with other apprentices, complete Safe Sport and Making Ethical Decisions training and attend at least one additional development opportunity throughout the year.
Tye believes strongly that connecting Tigers female assistant coaches with each other in both informal and formal professional development opportunities is invaluable to advancing women in the field of coaching and feels Dalhousie Athletics and Recreation is in a perfect position to do just that while enhancing the student-athletes experience.
“We have a platform inside this environment where our coaches are working so it is easy to access and relevant to what they are learning right now,” she says. “It will provide a place to build relationships and add to their development. This program doesn’t just help our coaches — it gives them the tools to better serve our student-athletes.”
The program is funded in part by the Dalhousie University Strategic Initiatives fund.
Gaining new perspectives
A participant in the U SPORTS Female Apprentice Coaching Program last year, Emily Clarke is in her fifth year as a coach with the cross country and track and field teams and is looking forward to connecting with her fellow female Dal coaches.
“I hope to gain more perspective and connection within the Tigers community through this new initiative,” says Clarke. “I haven't had a lot of opportunities to work with my fellow Dal coaches and hope this program will give me an opportunity to learn more and take the next step in my coaching journey.”
A multi-year AUS all-star while running for the Tigers from 2011-2016, Clarke is also looking forward to learning from Tye.
“I'm looking forward to working with Cindy — this will be my first opportunity working with a female head coach and I believe this experience will allow me to further hone my coaching skills and become more confident,” adds Clarke.
Former women’s basketball player (2016-19) Michele Tchiakoua is joining the women’s basketball team as an assistant coach for the first time this year and is looking forward to developing her leadership skills and becoming a role model for young women.
“When I was a student-athlete, I was not always the best role model or leader,” says Tchiakoua. “I am hopeful this program will provide me with the chance to redeem myself. It’s the perfect opportunity for young coaches like me to gain the confidence, experience, leadership and communication skills we need to go out there and make a difference.”
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