Raging pioneer

Fekete part of pioneering group of women entering coaching ranks

A remarkable individual dedicated to the growth of female football in the city of Calgary, Connie Fekete has made the transition to coaching. A former player with the Calgary Rage in the Western Women’s Canadian Football League, Fekete has joined the growing number of women throughout North America that are entering the coaching ranks in football.

Known affectionately as a super-fan with the Calgary Stampeders (she was once on the cover of the daily Metro Calgary newspaper), Fekete’s enthusiasm and love of football are nothing short of inspiring. With a Rage roster that featured a large rookie class, the new faces on the defensive corps could not have asked for a better instructor. While Fekete was a rookie coach, the adjustment from playing to coaching was not as she had anticipated,

“The transition was a lot easier than I’d imagined; being a teacher, coaching was a natural fit for me. The hardest part was not being in gear and participating!”

Despite missing the rush of laying a bruising tackle on an opposing player and the thrill of camaraderie that comes with being one of the armored gladiators gracing the gridiron, Fekete did share an element of humour in discussing her favorite aspect of coaching, “I would be lying if I said I did not enjoy watching the conditioning and not having to take part!”

Of note, Fekete was joined on the coaching staff by another strong woman. Erin Walton, a member of the Canadian contingent that competed at the 2010 and 2013 IFAF Women’s Worlds, traded in her helmet for a clipboard. With Walton’s contributions on the offensive side of the game, the opportunity to
have another player on the coaching staff was most welcomed,

“Erin is an amazing athlete. Her knowledge of football and enthusiasm for the sport makes it so much fun to work with her. When she finishes her playing career, she is going to be an outstanding coach. I look forward to learning a lot from Erin.”

Such feelings were reciprocal for Walton. With plans to return to the gridiron in 2015, Walton enjoyed the opportunity to share her first coaching experience with Fekete. It helped to encompass an empowering time for the team as Fekete and Walton were the first female coaches in franchise history.

“Connie being part of the coaching staff helped a lot! We are fortunate, as are many teams in the WWCFL, to have male coaches who want to help us develop into respected and knowledgeable female coaches.

Obviously, coaching in women’s football is still very much a male dominated area, and rightfully so; it has been a male dominated sport for decades. Now that women are participating in the sport, I believe it is critical to its sustainability and continued progression that we start to develop female coaches.

So, having Connie coaching on D and myself on O ensured that there was a female coaching presence on both sides of the ball, which was very important for our players to see and respond to.”

While Fekete’s acumen as an educator made her a perfect fit for the coaching staff, she is quick to acknowledge that there were individuals who provided her with inspiration.

“I was extremely lucky to work with some amazing coaches on the defense this season. Greg Bates and Blair Lowry were my mentors, and I really look forward to working with them again next season and hopefully learning a great deal more about football as I go”

Despite a difficult season for the Rage which resulted in a first-round playoff exit, the franchise opening the door for female coaches was a moral and meaningful victory, which should set the foundation in place for greater years to come. As Fekete reflects on her season, there were many positive lessons learned from her foray into coaching. Said lessons are such that provide her with the ambition and the motivation to continue to work hard and succeed, setting a positive example for the remarkable women of the Rage.

“I had no idea the amount of work that a dedicated coach puts into planning and executing practices each week, not to mention what goes into game planning! There are a lot of similarities between a successful teacher and a successful coach.

Once I get a few more years under my belt, I hope to be a bit more confident in my knowledge of the game. My enthusiasm for the game has only increased since being on the sidelines. I am really excited and proud to be part of developing women’s football from the ground floor.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

Advocating for football prospects one story at a time.

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