REGINA – This year’s National Women’s U18 Championships will be a blast from the past for a trio of Team Alberta coaches.
Head Coach Carla MacLeod, Assistant Coach Cassea Schols, and Goalie/Video Coach Amanda Tapp come into the tournament sharing the same distinction – coaching the team they once suited up for.
Having represented Team Alberta twice at the Canada Winter Games in 1995 (as a 12 year-old) and in 1999, MacLeod says it’s an honour to return to her roots.
“It’s pretty awesome, actually,” she said. “You know, you look back on your ‘good old days,’ and obviously, having an opportunity to play for Team Alberta was a major step in my career when I was a younger player, and memorable. So, to fast forward here and to have the opportunity to work with the young players here in Alberta and to be a part of Team Alberta again, it’s very special.”
Along with her Team Alberta experience, MacLeod brings a winning pedigree to the program, with numerous international medals to her name as a member of Team Canada, most notably back-to-back Olympic gold medals in 2006 and 2010.
“I think what you learn from sports, regardless of what level you play, is that the values of sport are what matter, and that’s making sure you’re a good teammate and taking care of the people around you,” MacLeod said. “Of course these girls have dreams about winning Nationals, and we’re going to do everything we can to help them reach those dreams, without a doubt, but I think ensuring that the experience we provide them is a positive one is what’s most critical.”
For Tapp, 2016 will mark her fourth year as part of the Team Alberta staff, and the second straight year coaching alongside MacLeod, her teammate at the 1999 Canada Winter Games.
Tapp says, whether it’s on the ice or behind the bench, representing her province never gets old.
“It has been an absolute privilege every single time I’ve been asked to represent Team Alberta,” Tapp said. “I still remember the first time I had the honour of putting on the (Team Alberta) jersey and taking to the ice alongside the very best players in our province. For most of us, the U-18 National Championships was our first taste of high performance hockey at its best, both on and off the ice. Hockey Alberta has given me many opportunities to study the sport and receive mentorship from the best in the game. I will forever be in debt to Hockey Alberta for all it has done for me, both as a player and coach. ”
A member of Team Alberta at the 2007 Canada Winter Games, Schols is set to make her coaching debut for the program she attributes a large part of her success to.
“To give back to the program that helped me grow into the person that I am and the hockey player that I was has been the greatest honour,” Schols said. “Hockey Alberta and all of the coaches that have come through the program devote so much of their time and energy to each and every player to make sure they achieve their best, and after coming up through the program, I wanted to be a coach that gave the same time and devotion that was given to me.”
While the entire Team Alberta staff brings a wealth of knowledge from all sides of the game, MacLeod says the trio of Team Alberta alumnae can bring their personal experience to the program.
“Our whole staff is awesome, and really dedicated, and certainly for Amanda, Cassea and myself, we get to relive our glory days a little more - we keep bringing them up anyways. We all thought we were hot stuff back in the day, so it makes for some good laughs,” MacLeod said. “There’s an ownership to the program, in a sense, because we took pride in it as a player, and certainly as a coach, you want to do right by Hockey Alberta and Team Alberta, and what that program has done for us. I think for the three of us, it’s a unique opportunity; it’s a special occasion for us. It’s not the main focus, by any means, but every once in a while we take the time to appreciate where we’re at and the opportunity we’ve been given.”
Team Alberta opens the National Women’s U18 Championships Wednesday at noon against Team Quebec. For a full schedule, and more information on the U18 Nationals, click here.
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