The Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) is proud to announce its 2019-20 participants in the annual Female Apprentice Coach Program for the sport of Soccer.
Centennial Colts, OCAA
Apprentice: Jessica Friend
Mentor: Diarmuid O’Connor
Former Colts captain Jessica Friend will bring a wealth of experience to the Women’s Soccer program at Centennial College this fall. Friend returns to the Colts as an apprentice under Head Coach Diarmuid O’Connor.
After four seasons with the Western University Mustangs (U Sports), Friend wrapped up her varsity career last season with the Colts in the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA). This past summer, she suited up for Alliance United FC, a semi-professional club in League One Ontario.
Now, her attention shifts to coaching.
“She is very keen to initiate her path to becoming a coach,” said Darcy Brioux, Manager, Athletics and recreation at Centennial. “This program is perfect for a young aspiring former CCAA athlete who wants to become a coach in the CCAA.”
For Friend, the sport of soccer has allowed her to discover her ability to lead.
“It is a dream of mine to be able to take my knowledge and love of the game to coach young aspiring athletes who are going through their post-secondary experiences,” she said.
Friend grew as an athlete and leader at Western, where she was named captain in her fourth season with the Mustangs. She excelled on the field, earning three Ontario University All-Star awards.
Off the field, she became involved with FitSpirit, where she was a movement ambassador. She promoted a healthy active lifestyle for young girls and ran weekly upbeat workouts for 40 girls.
Last season, Friend joined the Centennial Colts for her final year of eligibility.
“I came in not knowing anyone yet had the best experience with the best group of girls,” she said. “As an older player, I found it rewarding to help and encourage the younger girls on the team.”
O’Connor, who has coached at Centennial since 2007, believes Friend has the potential to be an excellent coach.
“She is a role model in her behaviour as well as the approach she takes to learning all facets of the game,” said O’Connor. “I have no doubt she will be a great female head coach in the future, and it is my commitment to help her along that path and involve her in every aspect of coaching.”
Friend looks forward to working alongside O’Connor and bringing her own personal experiences to the table.
“Predominately I have been coached by men and I want to show girls that women can be strong leaders too, which is why I am grateful for an opportunity like this offered by the CCAA,” said Friend.
Douglas Royals, PACWEST
Apprentice: Samantha Kell
Mentor: Chris Laxton
Just a few weeks after Chris Laxton took over the coaching duties at Douglas College in 2014, Samantha Kell joined the team as a rookie. The Royals Women’s Soccer program hasn’t been the same since.
While Kell’s five-year collegiate career came to an end last fall, the former team captain will rejoin the team this season as an apprentice under her former coach.
“Both Sam and Coach Laxton are excited at the opportunity to build the capacity of female coaches in the sport of soccer and continue the legacy of Royal female apprentice coaches developed at Douglas through the CCAA Female Apprentice Coach Program,” said Brian McLennon, Associate Director, Athletics at Douglas College.
After earning a bronze medal at the PACWEST Championships in 2014, the Royals earned their first conference title in 2015 and qualified for their first CCAA National Championship.
Douglas placed fourth at Nationals in 2015 before earning its first CCAA podium finish in 2016 with a bronze medal. After a third straight appearance at Nationals in 2017, the Royals hosted the 2018 CCAA Women’s Soccer National Championship.
“Since Chris has arrived, the College has seen a complete turn-around from the Women’s Soccer program and I am so honoured to have been a part of that success,” said Kell, who captained the Royals in her final three seasons.
Kell was the ultimate team player at Douglas, doing everything asked of her – she played every position for the team, including goaltender in 2015.
“I believe my diversity as an athlete will allow me to help the players no matter what position they are in,” said Kell.
For Kell, leadership has always been a natural characteristic of hers and she is excited to get the opportunity to continue refining her abilities with this role at Douglas.
“There are so many little moments in sport that can change someone’s life and I am really looking forward to being able to do just that as a coach,” said Kell.
The Royals are committed to developing female leaders and see them grow within the community.
“It is also important to me, as a coach of female players and a father of a daughter, that we have more female role models in our community and elite coaching ranks,” said Laxton. “This is a great opportunity to continue to inspire more female athletes through this program and for Sam to give back to the program and the community.”