The Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association is proud to announce its participants for the 2016-17 Female Apprentice Coach Program from the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA):
Apprentice: Naomi Fukudome
Mentor: Matthew Cheung
Naomi Fukudome, who has played varsity volleyball at the collegiate and university level, is ready to pursue her coaching career. She will be mentored this season by Matthew Cheung at Centennial College.
“Naomi is taking the ideal path to become a coach in the CCAA,” said Darcy Brioux, Manager of Athletics and Recreation at Centennial College. “This program is perfect for a young aspiring former CCAA athlete who wants to become a coach in the CCAA.”
Fukudome’s involvement with coaching first began in high school, where she assisted in running summer camps. She has since volunteered with the University of Guelph’s women’s volleyball team, was a head coach with the Guelph Grizzlies 18U squad and has continued to assist with the TOPS elite clinics and camps.
“Ever since I started playing volleyball, I have always dreamed of pursuing the sport as more than just a player,” said Fukudome. “I have always known that I wanted to coach and pass on my knowledge, experience and passion to other young athletes, to also help them achieve their dreams as volleyball players.”
She understands the pressures and hard work varsity athletes have to put in, as well as the struggles that face students. “I want to help them persevere and improve as both an athlete and a student,” she said.
Working with Cheung will give her the best opportunity to pursue her professional development as a volleyball coach.
“As my former volleyball coach, Matthew has not only encouraged me to be a better volleyball player, but has encouraged and mentored me to be a better coach during my other various coaching duties such as camps and other clinics,” said Fukudome.
She plans on contributing at Centennial with an optimistic approach to coaching by motivating and encouraging female student-athletes. Fukudome aspires to communicate strategic suggestions and would like to be approachable to both the players and other coaches.
For Cheung, an important part of coaching is building a healthy environment among all of the team’s members to promote development and learning.
“In order to achieve a healthy environment, I have to work with and build trust and communication with all my players and coaches,” said Cheung. “Naomi will be a vital part of the communication process.”
The Centennial coaching staff will be in constant communication, sharing ideas and methods to achieve their goals, according to Cheung.
“I expect to learn just as much from Naomi as she does from my ways of coaching,” he said.
As a mentor in the FACP, Cheung believes it is important to take the direction of developing female coaches.
“From my observation and without empirical evidence, the ratio of female to male coaches is weighted heavily on the latter,” he said. “It is important that athletes have opportunities to experience many perspectives on coaching for their growth as a player.”
Apprentice: Jessica Danku
Mentor: Frank DeChellis
Jessica Danku brings a unique blend of soccer and coaching experience to her apprentice role with the Niagara Knights.
Danku, a goalkeeper, played four seasons of Division 1 soccer at Northwestern State University of Louisiana. She has gained coaching experience at the St. Catharines Jets Girls Camp and has also coached several teams with her home club, most recently the U10 girls squad.
“I’m excited to work with Niagara College’s soccer program,” said Danku. “There is a lot of experience on their coaching staff that will make it a rare learning experience for me.”
Coach Frank DeChellis is already familiar with Danku; he was the Learning Facilitator for her “Learn to Train” and “Soccer for Life” courses through the Ontario Soccer Association.
It was during those OSA certification courses when DeChellis brought up the idea to Danku of getting exposure to college level players in a competitive environment.
“She struck me as a coach with a lot of potential and a true passion for soccer,” said DeChellis. “Jessica’s successful experience of four years as a post-secondary student-athlete will aid in our off-field expectations of our players.”
Danku is excited to work with Niagara on a consistent basis and feels that with her educational and soccer experiences, she has the tools to become a coach who can help players want to improve and at the same time enjoy the game.
“While learning a lot working with Coach Frank and the rest of the staff, I also expect to make a positive contribution to the team,” said Danku. “My experiences as a student-athlete, balancing academics, athletics and a personal life will allow me to directly relate to the players.”
Despite the fact that Danku already has an impressive list of certifications, her immediate goals are to earn an OSA C-License and OSA Goalkeeping Diploma.
DeChellis also believes in coach education as well as developing coaches for the game’s future.
“Participating in the CCAA FACP will allow me to further participate in coach development,” he said. “And I know Jessica will emerge from the program as a confident and knowledgeable member of the coaching community.”
St. Lawrence Vikings
Apprentice: Lacey Knox
Mentor: Remy Simpson
Former CCAA All-Canadian Lacey Knox is returning to the St. Lawrence Vikings to work as an apprentice alongside former CCAA Coach of the Year Remy Simpson.
Knox completed her final three years of eligibility as a co-captain with the Vikings after two seasons with the University of Western Ontario in the CIS.
“I am at the point in my career where I would like to pass on the knowledge and experience that I have gained throughout my years of playing in the OCAA,” said Knox. “Playing in the OCAA and being one of the many leaders within the program has created a sense of pride and accomplishment in my life.”
It’s that sense of pride that Knox hopes to pass along to other student-athletes.
“I believe that the coaches I had over the years of my career had a direct influence on the basketball player, leader, and overall person I have become and I am eager to help future players succeed in the same way my coaches helped me,” said Knox.
Denita Arthurs, Athletics Director at St. Lawrence College, has no doubt that Knox’s basketball knowledge and her leadership abilities will be a strong asset to the program.
“She and Remy have a proven ability to work together, unite others, and activate a holistic coaching philosophy,” said Arthurs. “Lacey is an individual our college and department want to invest in within this season and in the years to come.”
Simpson, a former player himself at St. Lawrence, took over head coaching duties for the Vikings in 2011-12, a winless season. Together, however, Simpson and Knox led the team to a 49-14 record between 2012 and 2015. Simpson earned CCAA Coach of the Year honours in 2015.
According to Arthurs, Simpson embodies the core values of St. Lawrence College.
“He is a lifelong learner, who is constantly pushing himself towards further growth and development,” said Arthurs. “Remy is a reflective and intentional leader who has developed a basketball pathway in Kingston from grassroots clinics, athlete recruitment, and varsity programming through alumni engagement and coach development.”
Having a formal opportunity to mentor an apprentice coach is a natural extension of his passion and skillset, she believes.
One of Simpson’s goals as a head coach is to have players graduate from the program and still have the drive to give back to the game and the younger generation of student-athletes through coaching.
“The fact that our program is reaching a point where we have former players coming back wanting to coach is a win for us,” he said.
The FACP will be beneficial to all who are involved with the Women’s Basketball program at St. Lawrence, according to Simpson.
“I believe that being a part of the mentorship program will allow me to share knowledge and build a strong foundation to an individual who has the potential to become a great coach in the future,” he said. “This program will also allow current players to strive to become a coach once they have graduated from the program.”
Apprentice: Dimitra Stathakos
Mentor: Scott Hunt
After two exceptional years on and off the court at Sheridan College, Dimitra Stathakos is set to return to the team as an apprentice in the FACP.
In two seasons with the Bruins, Stathakos captured two OCAA All-Star awards, two OCAA All-Academic awards and two CCAA Academic All-Canadian awards. Last season, the Sheridan captain also earned Sheridan’s prestigious Student-Athlete Academic Achievement award.
“As the team captain for the past two seasons, I have enjoyed the opportunity to take on a leadership role, to be the motivator and supportive light on the court that my teammates look to,” said Stathakos. “Developing this role has made me realize the joy I get in helping my teammates excel and play to the best of their ability.”
She believes the positive attitude, maturity and communication skills she utilized as a team captain will transfer perfectly into coaching.
Stathakos, also a graduate of York University, has given back to the community throughout her volleyball career. She coached young athletes while playing for the Peel Selects club from 2004-07 and while at York, she coached players ages 14-17 from 2010-12. In addition, since 2013, she has been involved with house league programs for children ages 6-18 at the Pakmen Volleyball Club.
“Being able to observe the development of young athletes into successful competitive rep players has been extremely rewarding,” said Stathakos, who already has NCCP certification and welcomes the prospect for additional professional development opportunities.
“I look forward to continuing to work on my NCCP coaching certification, in order to become a fully certified Level 2 coach and one-day head coach of my own post-secondary team,” she said.
Scott Hunt has had the pleasure of coaching Stathakos the past two seasons at Sheridan.
“Dimitra was the dream athlete to coach and she had an enormous impact on improving our program over her tenure at Sheridan,” he said. “She is an exceptional leader and communicator, embodying all of the characteristics and the drive to become a very successful women’s volleyball head coach in the future.”
Equally impressive to Hunt is the fact that Stathakos personifies all of these qualities in her life outside of volleyball.
Hunt, a Level 3 trained coach and NCCP Coach Evaluator, is an ideal mentor according to Jim Flack, Athletic Director at Sheridan College.
“Since bringing on Scott as our Head Coach two years ago, he has elevated the level of our program through his meticulous and diligent planning,” said Flack. “His attention to detail is second to none in the OCAA and his leadership for our players and current assistant coaches has been outstanding.”
Hunt is a great teacher of the game and nurtures both the players and coaches, making them feel involved at all times, according to Flack.
Meanwhile, Hunt is honoured to mentor Stathakos in her pursuit of achieving her coaching goals.
“The support from this program will have a massive impact on Dimitra’s coaching development, while also benefiting our women’s volleyball team at Sheridan with the presence of an inspiring female role model and leader,” he said.