For Chelsie Coxford playing ringette as a child exposed her to a lot of strong female role models.
“Throughout my ringette career there was always a female coach on the bench that I looked up to as a younger player,” reflected Coxford, head coach of the U14 United. “That’s what motivated me to give back to the sport once I was older because I knew how much it helped me at a young age.”
As a player growing up through the Regina Ringette system, Coxford enjoyed a lot of success playing the game. She played numerous times at nationals as a ‘AA’ player, was a member of Team Saskatchewan in 2007 at the Canada Winter Games in Whitehorse, Yukon and won gold at Westerns in 2014.
But when she first started playing as a nine-year old, she noticed that a lot of her coaches didn’t always have playing experience.
“When I was younger there was always a mom on the bench who was there more in case of injury, but not necessarily someone who played ringette before or even coached,” explained Coxford. “In those days there were a lot of dads on the bench who claimed to know about ringette but really had more experience playing hockey."
“Nowadays it’s great to have so many female coaches who understand the game and are able to give their insight to the players as that perspective is often quite different from the view of someone who has not played before.”
The ability to motivate other young girls as a strong female role model is what continues to motivate Coxford in her 13th season as a coach with Regina Ringette. This year she's behind the bench as the head coach of the U14 United.
“Coaching has been extremely positive and rewarding for me,” she said. “I’ve had the opportunity to meet a number of great families over the years and share my passion for ringette with them.
“Having an entire team from one year come back and register to play for the next season is always a goal of mine as a coach. It is usually the toughest when evaluations come around each year and the girls insist they be on my team again. There are also some parts that are tougher than others, such as dealing with injured players or not winning every game, but keeping the girls motivated is what I enjoy.”
Coxford says she’s learned that what can be your biggest frustration as a coach often evolves into your most rewarding moments.
“I enjoy the ‘ah ha’ moments with the players I have coached,” she explained. “This is when they are working at something I’ve been teaching them and they realize once they have done it and no longer doubt themselves and their abilities.
“I always encourage the players to try their best and that making mistakes or falling down while trying helps them learn.”
When Coxford isn’t behind the bench, you’re likely to find her at the rink playing on the Open A Jetts. She also volunteers as the Open Commissioner for Regina Ringette.
Unlike a lot of coaches, Coxford doesn’t just coach because she has a daughter in the game. For her coaching is all about giving back.
“The biggest challenge most people see when it comes to be a non-parent coach is the amount of my own time that I give up to coach, without having a child of my own on the team. A lot of people ask me why I continue to coach and I always respond back with, ‘if I did not enjoy it, I wouldn’t do it.’ Coaching allows me to give back to the sport that has given me so much over the years and I even learn things along the way to improve as a coach and a player.
“I plan on continuing to play and coach as long as I am able to. I plan on continuing to be a positive influence for younger players in ringette.”