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Leveling the Playing Field

TORONTO (June 12, 2017):  When women are on the coaching roster, both girls and boys remain in sport longer. When one gender does not dominate the leadership roles, excellence happens, participation is sustained, and reach is further.

The Coaches Association of Ontario (CAO), in partnership with the Ontario Government, begins a crucial step forward towards Changing the Game for women and coaching in sport.

Changing the Game – Changing the Conversation is a signature initiative under the Ontario 150 Program dedicated to creating balanced leadership among coaches in sport. The legacy of the project is a 2017 graduating class of 250 female leaders. A new generation of inspired female coaches feeling empowered in every sport and community who are ready and willing to inspire the next generation of athletes and coaches.

Over the course of the next month, 90 selected mentors from across Ontario begin their journey to guide and lead a group of female apprentices in their coach and leadership development, with the first of a series of mentor training’s kicking off in Toronto this past weekend, highlighted by the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario addressing mentors at a celebratory reception.

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The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, addressing the group at a special celebratory reception. **Photo courtesy of the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell

“Seeing women strengthening their leadership muscles as coaches will inspire a new generation, sustain participation, and leave a legacy for years to come”, says Coaches Association of Ontario’s Executive Director Susan Kitchen. “This is a bold step, and we plan to take a deep look at systemic issues – making the barriers and hurdles less high. Making the coaching careers of women much longer and much more rewarding.”

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From top left to bottom right:

The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell & Susan Kitchen – Executive Director of Coaches Association of Ontario, Steph Sutton – Softball Ontario, Eric McLoughlin & Mercedes Watson – Coaches Association of Ontario, Debbie Low & Tommy Wharton – Canadian Sport Institute of Ontario (CSIO). **Photos courtesy of the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell

In a recent study by the Centre for Sport Policy Studies at the University of Toronto found that only 19% of head coaching jobs and 22% of assistant coaching jobs in Ontario University Athletics (OUA) are held by women.

Too often what is missing is “planting the seed” or encouragement, or an opportunity to not just observe, but to do and take the lead. By connecting apprentice coaches with experienced mentors, women across the province will receive comprehensive support along on their coaching pathway.

“As role models, mentors are living examples of what is possible, showing young women that there are no limits to what they can achieve, says Canadian Olympic medal winning Synchronized Swimming Coach Sheilagh Croxon. “Mentors have played a significant role at every step of my coaching career and I am excited that through this program each of our coaches will have the opportunity to be linked with a quality mentor to help them take the next step in their coaching journey.”

Changing the Game is about working with a large group of female coaches from communities across the province in different contexts and bringing them into a support network where they can learn, develop, and build relationships.

Changing the Conversation is about creating powerful communication tools to get people talking about coaching. It is about building a lasting resource hub that coaches can access to enhance their expertise and build their coach tool-kits.

For more information on how to get involved and be a difference maker in your sport or community, visit www.coachesontario.ca/changingthegame.

The Coaches Association of Ontario is an independent, non-profit, coach-led organization that strengths development opportunities and provides educational resources for coaches in a variety of contexts. The CAO promotes coaching ethics and ensures the wider community recognizes the vital role of the coach in the development of sport at all levels.


Media Contact:

Eric McLoughlin
Coach & Partner Development
Coaches Association of Ontario
(416) 426-7005

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