CCAA Apprentice Coaches Awarded to VIU

July 6th, 2014

July 2, 2014 - As the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association celebrates its 40th anniversary; it’s also a milestone year for the Female Apprentice Coach Program (FACP).

The 2014-15 season marks the 10th year female graduate student-athletes get the opportunity to participate as apprentices under mentor coaches.

This year, CCAA teams will have female apprentices in basketball (5), volleyball (4), soccer (2) and badminton (2). The PACWEST leads the way with five apprentices, while the ACAC (4), RSEQ (3) and OCAA (1) are also represented by the program, which is funded by Sport Canada.

Since 2005, the FACP has supported more than 130 apprentices. Recently, a study was conducted and it was discovered that approximately 63% of the apprentices have continued to coach in either paid or volunteer positions following their apprenticeships.

“This represents an important contribution to coaching development in Canada and has created some outstanding coaches and coaching opportunities for women,” said FACP program chair Yvonne Becker.

This unique program gives apprentices the start, confidence and professional development needed to proceed to higher levels of coaching according to Becker, who recently presented the study at the World Conference on Women and Sport in Helsinki, Finland.

Delegates were enthused with the program because of how it engages women into a coaching pathway at such an early stage. “It enables women to “see” a coaching career path which is so essential to pursuing it in a step-wise progression,” said Becker. 

“In this way, the barriers that so many female coaches encounter are not insurmountable because coaching has a place within life priorities and can continue through many life phases,” she said.

While this mentor-apprentice partnership is a significant opportunity to launch a coaching career, it is critical that the apprentice takes advantage of all that the experienced coach has to offer and engage in professional development sessions as soon as possible. In turn, it is also important that the mentor coach shares the skills, insights and confidence that an aspiring coach needs.

While the FACP has been successful, it remains clear there is still plenty of work needed to increase the number of women coaches in Canada. Information from the Coaching Association of Canada indicates that in 2012, only 19 of 93 Olympic coaches (20%) and two of 17 Paralympics coaches (8.5%) were female. 

“This continues to be a critical time to increase the number of women in coaching positions so that they can contribute to coaching methodologies and serve as role models for young women who have the desire to coach in the future,” said Becker.

“These numbers will only change if programs such as the CCAA FACP, that provide an opportunity for women to enter an early coaching pathway, are encouraged and financially supported,” she said.

The FACP Committee has carefully selected its 2014-15 apprentices and coaches and will monitor their progress over the coming season via progress reports.



Institution: Vancouver Island University
Sport: Basketball

Apprentice: Heather McCarthy

During her five seasons at Vancouver Island University, Heather McCarthy proved you can be successful in both athletics and academics.

Now, as a Female Apprentice Coach Program participant, McCarthy will be able to pass along her experiences to current Mariners.

McCarthy suited up for VIU’s women’s basketball team for five seasons and in that time, she was placed on the Dean’s Honour List all five years. She also held VIU’s President’s Scholarship and earned an Academic All Canadian award in her final year.

“I believe that the example I have set, and will continue to set, will encourage and influence the current players,” said McCarthy. “It is as important to be a high achieving student as it is to be a high achieving athlete and I have proven it is possible to be both,” she said.

Throughout her playing career, McCarthy was also involved in the Mariner Summer Basketball camps, where she was responsible for developing and running warm-up and skill development drills. The young girls were receptive to her style of coaching, particularly because it was individualized to each player.

“Every person is motivated in a different way and I recognized individual strengths and challenges in each player and helped them to learn in a way that they responded to,” said McCarthy, who was named team captain in her final two seasons at VIU.

“These experiences have strengthened my leadership skills and I hope to continue to develop these skills as an apprentice coach,” she said.

McCarthy earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree with a major in Sport, Health and Physical Education and she will pursue a Post Baccalaureate Degree in Elementary Education. While the FACP is providing McCarthy the opportunity to give back to her community in a coaching capacity, it also fits seamlessly into her career path of coaching and teaching.

“The experience and knowledge I can gain from this position will help to build my confidence and skills to one day become a head coach,” she said.

Bruce Hunter, Athletics Director at VIU couldn’t agree more. “She has always led by example and is highly respected by her coaches and teammates,” he said.

“Heather is exactly the type of person who would make an excellent head coach in the future,” said Hunter.

Coach: Bill McWhinnie

The Canadian Collegiate Athletic Associations’ reigning women’s basketball Coach of the Year is adding another weapon to his bench thanks to the Female Apprentice Coach Program.

Bill McWhinnie, head coach of the VIU Mariners, has been selected as a mentor coach. Last season, he guided his team to an impressive 20-1 record and the top ranking in the PACWEST. The Mariners finished third at provincials.

After coaching Heather McCarthy for five seasons, McWhinnie will now have her as an apprentice. He believes McCarthy is the ideal candidate for the program.

“Heather is an outstanding young woman, who is going to be an outstanding coach,” he said. “She has been a role model for her teammates for several years and I can see her doing the same for the young players she coaches.”

McWhinnie, who is a Certified Level 3 Coach, recognizes the importance to have more female coaches in Canada. “We are in need for our young girls to have female mentors and coaches they can look up to and I think this program is a terrific opportunity to do this,” he said.

With two apprentices this season, Hunter and VIU are committed to the FACP. He’s confident that McCarthy and McWhinnie will make an excellent team. “Bill is a dedicated and knowledgeable coach who will make a very good mentor for Heather,” he said.

Institution: Vancouver Island University
Sport: Soccer

Apprentice: Allison Bach

Allison Bach joins the Vancouver Island University women’s soccer team through the Female Apprentice Coach Program. Her resume, both as a player and a coach, is quite impressive.

Bach grew up in Parksville, B.C. and played numerous sports at a competitive level. Her club soccer team from Nanaimo won both the provincial and national championships in 2003. Bach was also a member of the B.C. soccer program from U-14 through U-18.

She played varsity soccer for the University of Victoria for five seasons. There, she helped UVic qualify for four National Intercollegiate Championships and a National Title in 2005. Bach has won scoring titles and received all-star berths and she was an All Canadian in 2007.

“Having played at a very high level Allison brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the women’s (soccer) program and is an excellent addition to the coaching staff,” said Bruce Hunter, Athletics Director at VIU.

Bach has experience coaching at many levels, from school soccer to the Vancouver Island Premier League, and she has experience running the youth development sessions for Oceanside Youth Soccer Society.

She is excited to join the VIU coaching staff and believes she has much to contribute from her athletic experiences. Bach is also an advocate of a good balance between academic and athletic participation.

“I have always been taught that community’s support for elite athletes is an investment in future leaders,” she said. “It is a privilege for me to give back to the community that was so supportive of my athletic endeavors.”

Coach: Anup Kang

Anup Kang is a highly respected soccer instructor with two decades of experience. Now, he’s a mentor coach as a part of the Female Apprentice Coach Program.

Kang, a Certified Level 3 Coach, has been with the Vancouver Island Mariners women’s soccer program for seven years. He takes pride that VIU ranks academics high within its varsity program as well; this past semester, 14 student-athletes earned Academic Excellence.

“During his time at VIU, the women’s program has steadily improved to the point where they are now a dominant team in the B.C. league,” said Hunter. “Anup is a highly motivated and skilled coach who will make an excellent role model for Allison,” he said.

Kang has high praise for Bach and looks forward to sharing ideas and philosophies with his apprentice, ultimately pointing her in the right direction as a head coach.

“Allison has been a successful varsity athlete and student at the highest level in Canada,” said Kang. “She has the passion and dedication to learn and commitment required to be a head coach one day,” he said.