National Coaches Week: Thanks, Coach!

Photo courtesy of Grande Prairie Regional College
Photo courtesy of Grande Prairie Regional College

The relationship between an athlete and a coach is of the utmost importance. Your coach will teach you skills both on and off the court, teach you discipline, encourage you to try new gameplay — it's a neverending series of learning and growth. Coaches are a crucial part of building a healthy, active community. We asked athletes to get involved in National Coaches Week by sharing the way their coaches have impacted their lives as student-athletes. 

Why does your coach mean so much to you?

Long-standing athletes were quick to share their thanks with the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) when asked why they're grateful for their coaches. But a special recent graduate and former Player of the Year, Rae Sigurdson of the Lakeland College Rustlers women's volleyball team had nothing but kind words for her past coach, Austin Dyer.

"Austin taught me to play for something bigger than myself," says Sigurdson. "He taught me to play for my teammates around me and to really just enjoy every moment."

Sigurdson says those moments seem to go by much too quickly. However, she has a new mission in her mentor, and that is to learn from him as she takes a new role on the bench as an assistant coach. "He's made me a better leader, a better friend and I know for a fact he's going to make me a better coach." 

In her words, Sigurdon wanted to say thanks:

Austin, thank you for finding me and giving me the opportunity to play post-secondary sport to make the most amazing memories and meet the most amazing people. Thank you for believing in me and pushing me right from the start. Thank you for all of the time you put into the team and sacrificing part of your personal life to ensure we had the best experience possible. You showed me growth in my athletic and mental abilities that I didn't even know were possible. I am not the person I am today without you. I will never be able to string together the right words to tell you how truly grateful I am for you and all you taught me. I am so excited to learn from you in a new role as a coach and I am so excited to still be a part of this program and this sport learning from the best of the best.

New or old, all coaches make a difference

A tough position for many coaches is the transition into a new role at a new post-secondary, and onto a new team. That doesn't mean that you can't make an immediate impact with your players, and that's been proven by two current ACAC student-athletes. 

Keilan Dobish, men's basketball player for the NAIT Ooks, enters his fourth season with a new coach and a new role, as captain. Though Dobish has only known "Coach Slav" for five months, he says "I already know he is someone that always has my back no matter what the situation or circumstances might be."

A former national champion and Ook, Coach Slav has quickly garnered respect from his new team and has proven his passion for the program from day one. Dobish says that on the court, his coach pushes him to be the best possible version of himself, and off the court, he pushes him to make choices and take steps towards becoming a valuable and contributing member of society when his time with the NAIT Ooks comes to an end.

 In his words, Dobish wanted to say thanks:

Thank you, Coach Slav, for giving me the opportunity to continue playing the sport I love for the school I love after our coaching change took place!

Trey Sanderson, men's volleyball player for the Grande Prairie Regional College Wolves is in the same boat as Dobish. The Wolves have a new pack member in Coach Sam Tuivai, previously coach of the Wolves women's volleyball team in 2016. 

Sanderson says that Coach Sam is inspires their team through his knowledge of the sport. "He doesn't just work you physically, but mentally to make us think more about the game in a technical way." 

Coach Sam has early-on shown the athletes his passion and desire for them to grow. "It means a lot to have a coach that will take the time to come to you one on one and explain to you what he sees in you and what you need to improve on," says Sanderson. "Sam wants the best for all of us, and wants to see all of us succeed on the court and our academics."

In his words, Sanderson wanted to say thanks:

Thanks, Sam for being our new Head coach here at GPRC. Looking forward to the year ahead and learning all that you have to give us.