U SPORTS, the national governing body of university sport in Canada, has announced 18 former student-athletes have been selected for the 2021-2022 U SPORTS Female Apprentice Coach Program.
Leading this year’s class for the programme’s second season are the 2013 U SPORTS female athlete of the year Shanice Marcelle - who played women’s volleyball for the UBC Thunderbirds and is now coaching with the York Lions - and two-time U SPORTS Top 8 Academic All-Canadian Ciera Disipio of the Cape Breton Capers women’s soccer programme.
The latest announcement for this scheme - which was tied to International Women's Day celebrations this week - aims to increase the number of females in coaching positions across Canadian universities by matching apprentice coaches who have recently graduated with a head coach in one of the 11 U SPORTS-sanctioned sports.
"We’re excited to continue to build our Female Apprentice Coach Program," said Lisette Johnson-Stapley, chief sports officer for U SPORTS.
"Despite the unprecedented challenges faced in the Program’s inaugural year, this initiative is already opening new doors, providing the tools for further coaching development and education in Canadian university sport and fostering success to our proud alumnae who aspire to become coaches themselves in the near future."
This year's class also includes several other national and conference champions, major award winners and All-Canadians or All-Stars, as well as national team athletes and Olympians.
A total of 46 applications were received for the 2021-2022 edition of the programme, nearly double from the inaugural campaign, with 18 apprentice coaches selected for the second consecutive year.
Nine of the 11 sports are represented - including rugby, soccer, cross country, hockey, basketball, volleyball, swimming, track and field and wrestling – as well as all four U Sports member conferences, in addition to the black, indigenous and people of colour community.
The 18 selected women are: Laura Taylor and Savannah King from swimming, Sara Miller from cross country and track and field, Jamie McCarron, Kayli Sartori, Winta Desta, Nicole Barnard, Chanel Ramcharran from basketball, Savannah Newton, Taylor Kezema, Erica Porter and Catherine Dubois from ice hockey, Carolyn McEwan and Sammy Nadeau from rugby union, Ciera Disipio from football, Kendra Finch and Shanice Marcelle from volleyball and Natassya Lu from wrestling.
All participants in the programme - which is due to officially start on April 1 - will be a member of the coaching staff at their respective schools and, where possible, will provide feedback to colleagues as well as student-athletes, while taking part in team activities.
Each apprentice coach will also attend at least one National Coaching Certification Program, with the option to also take additional professional development courses and seminars in the field of coaching.