Positive experience


Women’s World Football Games provides positive coaching experiences 

An event encompassing all aspects of the game, the inaugural Women’s World Football Games in Arlington, Texas welcomed a group of Canadians that are looking to help make strong contributions to the game as coaches. From their contributions with the Canadian national team to an understanding of the game as players, the learning experience in Arlington will only help to enrich their future involvement.

Emma Hicks, one of a rare group of women to have competed in both the Maritime Women’s Football League and the Western Women’s Canadian Football League, was part of the historic event in Arlington. Despite her remarkable career as a player, which included a stint with the Canadian national team, she was looking to sharpen her coaching skills.

“It was a great experience – continuing to learn, reemphasizing techniques I knew, finding new ways to teach, and learning more about the dynamics of coaching and being part of a staff. I thought Jeff Vik did a great job with teaching and coaching the defense. I also spent a lot of time on the field with Chad Hester; I sincerely appreciate the effort he put into teaching the DE’s and working with myself.”

As one of the key initiatives for women’s football in Canada is the involvement of more female coaches, the presence of Hicks was invaluable. Currently involved as the Female Football Director for Football Saskatchewan, Hicks also possesses a strong background as a strength and conditioning coach, providing strong leadership.

Having competed with the WWCFL’s Regina Riot, Hicks is helping to promote positive change for the budding league. Heading into the 2014 edition of the WWCFL season, the Calgary Rage will have several players contributing to the coaching staff. Among them are Connie Fekete and Erin Walton, who has played alongside Hicks on the Canadian contingent.

Stephanie Bosse, a champion in 2013 with the MWFL’s Capital Area Lady Gladiators was one of a handful of Canadian players participating at the inaugural World Women’s Football Games. She commented on the high energy that the coaches provided with their pre-practice rituals,

“Every beginning of practice, the coaches would pump us up by making us repeat them. For instance “how do you feel?” players repeated “good” how do you feel? “Fired up!” We also shouted in competition with the defense vs. offence coach:” I” players repeat, coach: ” Love ” players repeat, coach: “Football” . It was very motivating.”

Another individual who has helped bring about a positive influence for the growing role of female coaches is Olivier Eddie. Contributing to the Canadian National Women’s Team as special teams coach for the 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds, Eddie also added an important role to his duties.

By willing to serve as part of a group of mentors to aspiring female coaches, he was gracious enough to share his time and knowledge with Cheryl O’Leary during Canada’s run to the gold medal game at the Worlds. Of note, O’Leary will serve as President of the MWFL in 2014. During her time at the IFAF Worlds, her involvement in the mentor-coach program led her to being interviewed for the football documentary, The Tackle Girls.

Heading into the event, Eddie already had some impressive credentials. Having served as a football coach with Mount Allison University, he also pulled double duty as Director of Football Operations. Capable of providing leadership on and off the field, other experience includes a stint as Executive Director of Football New Brunswick along with experience as a member of the Saskatchewan Roughriders front office. Although Eddie was the student during this event, the wealth of knowledge acquired was invaluable.

“The event provided me with the opportunity to learn from other coaches. The more I reflect on my experience and look back at my notes, the more I realize that football is about fundamentals. The event featured current CFL players, ex-NFL players and ex-NCAA Div I coaches. I was pleased to see that they have the same beliefs as the Canadian coaches that I work with have; it’s about teaching the basics with great attention to detail.”

For Eddie, the experience in Arlington had him beaming with national pride. “It was great to confirm that our Canadian athletes are just as good as the athletes from the eight other represented countries. Some of the Canadian athletes really stood out during the course of the week.”

For Hicks, the personal and professional benefits of taking part in the inaugural Women’s World Football Games were innumerable. Sharing the common thread of the MWFL alongside the likes of Bosse and Alex Black, Arlington would prove to be a treasured experience. The opportunity for a reunion with her former MWFL competitors only enhanced what was a unique celebration of the game,

“I loved that we had some Canadian representation, with five athletes and two coaches – and great to see some old teammates there. Connecting with coaches and players from around the world – it’s exciting to see the development of the sport and be a part of an international event where we all come to get better together.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

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