Home > National fencing coach Patricia Howes is always “en guarde” to take on a new challenge.

National fencing coach Patricia Howes is always “en guarde” to take on a new challenge.

CAO’s all new Empowering Stories from Behind the Bench article series – May 2022

Sport has the power to change lives and as coaches, we are often judged by what we say, believe and how we put that in action.”

By David Grossman

Patricia (Patti) Howes has heard it over, and over again.

Questions, comments, suggestions, and hints that either she couldn’t do something, or it was best to focus on a more achievable project, job, or interest.

No ifs, ands, or buts.

All that did, was motivate her even more.

Not one to give up, but instead strive for opportunities, Howes buckled down and used her charm and charisma going after things she enjoyed and could build on. To get some peace of mind, each time Howes just focussed on ways to prove others wrong.

“Always curious to try new things, and undaunted by naysayers, I have persevered through many challenges as a person,” said Howes. “There have been many losses along the way, but I always learned from those loses and appreciated my victories.”

Born Patricia O’Flaherty, in Montreal and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., she was a ballet dancer in her elementary and high school days. O’Flaherty would later teach that form of finesse, flare, and brilliance to youngsters.

Always artistic, she enjoys the painting of acrylics, and at one time was quite serious about becoming an artist. Creative and energetic, it was during the pandemic days of incognito, that Howes would devote time to a new hobby of wood carving.

Around the age of 19, a new beginning emerged for her. she had entered Carleton University in Ottawa. She needed something to replace dancing, keep her busy when there was time away from academic studies. She also wanted to meet new people.

What perked her interest, something she had found to be quite fascinating, was the Carleton varsity fencing club. She was fascinated by the mental and physical aspects of fencing.

Mention the sport of fencing and the average person conjures up pictures from the movie world.

The master sword fighters in Star Wars to the mysterious hero who fought to protect the poor and oppressed in the Mask of Zorro. Even the Disney film, Parent Trap has a fencing match rivalry that involves two look-a-like girls. Her favorite fencing movie is The Princess Bride, a swashbuckling classic.

For Howes, it was not about Hollywood. It became more than a passion and something that would continue to intrigue and pique her curiosity. Her artisan days became secondary, replaced by teaching and coaching, and emphasizing the fun and joy of the sport. It would be a calling that consumed her life and would benefit hundreds more along the way.

“As a university student, I wanted to do something for fitness, but had a limited budget,” said Howes, who had met and married David Howes. “There was a notice about joining the fencing club for $25.00. It was reasonable and looked interesting. I knew there would be an opportunity to learn, have some fun, and get a good physical workout.”

Curiosity would soon end. Fascination took over, followed by a form of infatuation that led to a desire to coach a sport that has been featured in every modern Olympic Games. Howes has enjoyed helping people find the path for their own success and in 1989, it happened. Her first dip into coaching through the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP).

“My husband’s first posting was Greenwood, N.S.,”, said Howes. “He had asked, at the base gym, about building a fencing program and we were offered the free use of an old military school gym and classroom.”

Now a multi-award-winning Ontario university and competitive fencing coach, Howes was the recipient of the inaugural Hydro One Safe Play Award that was presented to a coach who practices positive, inclusive, physically, and emotionally safe sport through their leadership role. Her story is just one in a special Coaching Association of Ontario (CAO) series called “Empowering Stories from Behind the Bench”.

Howes is noticeable with her caring and unwavering approach. It’s obvious in her role as varsity head coach and program coordinator at Royal Military College (RMC) in Kingston. More than winning awards, she has stressed the safe space element, which is not just physical, but mental and emotional.

“We were in Winnipeg, I was a busy working mom, but I wanted to be a professional coach,” said Howes, who had solid coaching credentials after graduating from the National Coaching Institute High Performance Coaching program at the University of Manitoba.

“My husband saw a military job posting at work for a full-time fencing coach at RMC,” said Howes, who had solid coaching credentials after graduating from the National Coaching Institute High Performance Coaching program at the University of Manitoba. “I thought he was joking, didn’t take him seriously until I read the notice and then applied.”

With an ambition to become a Fencing Master, and having studied the disciplines in foil, epee and sabre through the NCCP, there was a glaring opportunity. If successful, Howes would have to shuffle off to the Limestone city leaving her husband, posted to Winnipeg, and their 10 and 12-year-old children. Both kids were also well settled with school and friends.

“Sometimes you just have to make important career moves and when I was offered the RMC position in 2002, I had discussed it with our family, I packed the car and a few weeks later was in Kingston running the program,” she said. “We hoped it wouldn’t be long before my husband was transferred, and in the meantime the kids would stay with him.”

Howes is the first woman Fencing Master at RMC, and along with close friend Lynn Seguin in Richmond, B.C., they are believed to be the first two females with that title in Canada. At RMC, Howes operates two campus programs and has coached teams to five Ontario University Athletics (OUA) championships in her 20 years at the school.

“I trusted my training, re-designed the RMC fencing program and continue to thoroughly enjoy the journey,” said Howes, who resides on nearby Wolfe Island. “At RMC, we have people interested in experiencing life, trying new things, and be there to serve their country. For me, I always want to do the best that I can and build good people. That’s always been my goal.”

Years of knowledge and experience, as well as a career of hard work triumphant in the sport, Howes is devoted to her students. She has put people, who had previously never fenced, on the winner’s podium.

Howes was selected to coach at several major events, ranging from the Canada Games to the Junior World championship, the Junior Pan Am Games to the FISU World University Games in Russia (2013) and Korea (2015). She was also at the international military sports organization’s World Games in Brazil (2011), Korea (2015) and China (2019)

“Sport has the power to change lives and as coaches, we are often judged by what we say, believe and how we put that in action,” she said. “If your goal is to guide athletes to try accomplish their goals, which is the job of a good coach, then it’s critical that you have to be a quality leader and earn their trust and respect.”


David Grossman is a veteran multi award-winning Journalist and Broadcaster with some of Canada’s major media, including the Toronto Star and SPORTSNET 590 THE FAN, and a Public Relations professional for 45+ years in Canadian sports and Government relations.

“If your goal is to guide athletes to try accomplish their goals, then it’s critical that you have to be a quality leader and earn their trust and respect.”

Home > Canadian Tire JumpStart offering Keeping Girls in Sport resource FREE to Ontario Coaches until June 30, 2022

Canadian Tire JumpStart offering Keeping Girls in Sport resource FREE to Ontario Coaches until June 30, 2022

The Government of Ontario, through the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, is investing up to $1 million through Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities to promote active recreation in Ontario. This funding will help children and youth reconnect with sport and recreation at the grassroots level, with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion.

Thanks to this investment Jumpstart is able to offer access to the Keeping Girls in Sport (KGIS) online learning resource at no cost to as many as 1,500 coaches and program leaders in Ontario.     

Keeping Girls in Sport is an online resource that helps coaches and youth activity leaders create safe and respectful environments for female athletes, ensuring girls stay enrolled and engaged in sports and physical activity.

Below are instructions to access the free registration from May 9 to June 30, 2022 (or 1,500 registrations):

URL: https://provinceon-kgis.respectgroupinc.com

Program Access Instructions:

  • If you have an existing profile in any other Respect Group program, select “New to this Program?” then “Look-Up”.
  • If this is your first time registering for a Respect Group Program, select “New to this Program?” followed by “Register”.
  • Complete registration.
  • Select “Submit” at the bottom of the page. You will be requested to review and accept the Privacy policy.
  • On the payment page, click “Enter Code”
  • Pre-Registration Code: PO-KGIS-R2R6G7X
  • Once successfully logged in, you will default to the Home page. Select Program Access to view the modules.
  • To re-access the program, return to the same URL indicated above and enter the username and password created during registration.

This free access code is available until June 30, 2022, or 1,500 registrations.

Thank you for the work you for the work that you do to keep girls in sport. 

Please do not hesitate to reach out to jumpstart@cantire.com if you have any questions.   

Home > CAO Launches Low Income Coach Bursary to further remove financial barriers for coaches

CAO Launches Low Income Coach Bursary to further remove financial barriers for coaches

CAO is delighted to announce that as of April 1, 2022, thanks in part to funding from the Ontario Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, which supports Coaching Enhancement Programs, the well-known Coach Bursary program will be allocating a portion of funds to low income coaches.

Eligible coaches can apply to receive 100% of their NCCP workshop fee covered under the all new low income coach bursary. This brand new initiative is aimed at removing financial barriers for coaches who meet the eligibility criteria.

“We hope this new extension to our popular coach bursary program will make NCCP more accessible to coaches across the province who may have previously faced barriers to the training”, said CAO Executive Director Jeremy Cross. “It is always our aim to provide access to high quality coach education to anyone who is committed to coaching and developing athletes and participants in sport by improving their own knowledge and abilities. We hope this update to the bursary program will further that goal.”

The bursary is available to low income individuals who meet certain eligibility requirements. Individual coaches can apply, or their club/organization can apply on their behalf. Full program and eligibility details can be found on the Funding for Coaches page.

For more information about the Coach Bursary program, please email cep@coachesontario.ca or call (416) 426-7086

100% back on training for eligible coaches

Home > Jordan McFarlane is a coach, mentor and father figure to an entire community through the power of sport

Jordan McFarlane is a coach, mentor and father figure to an entire community through the power of sport

CAO’s Empowering Stories from Behind the Bench article series – April 2022

“Sports coaching can be defined as the process of motivating, guiding, and training an individual in preparation for any sporting hobby, career, or event.”Life Coach Directory

By David Grossman

Jordan McFarlane knows all about winning basketball games.

As a player, he’s been on teams with crowning achievements, coached champions, and had his share of personal accolades. Talk with him, and he can spend hours sharing stories.

But the ones that stand out are not myths, but the huge victories – those that have come outside the hardwood floor of the gym.

McFarlane knows of the tough times, the struggles, and challenges, and how he, like others, have gone through adversity to get to the good side of things. It’s not impossible to do.

Having lived in a troubled Toronto neighbourhood often stigmatized by the mere mention of the streets, Jane and Finch, McFarlane was raised by a single parent. His mother, for which he has huge compliments and adulation, helped him navigate through life.

Since graduating from C.W. Jefferys Collegiate, followed by some post-secondary education at Ryerson, McFarlane was always enamored with the dream of one day becoming a social worker.

Resilient, hard-working and with an unwavering passion and commitment, McFarlane figured he had a way of getting to people – and then, leaving them with a positive impression. So, he chose the route of coaching, adding the related components of educating, and mentoring, to the job.

He’s been doing it, and exceptionally well, since 2006.

McFarlane had the right idea. He used a physical athletic activity that involves a large orange ball and is very popular with the teenage crowd. Yes, basketball – a game invented by James Naismith, the Canadian who, among other accomplishments, was a sports coach.

Always gung-ho about the game of hoops, McFarlane knew it would be a mechanism that brought young boys, many often facing an assortment of social challenges, off the streets, and into the confines of a gym. The objective: fun and learning.

For McFarlane, his ambition and intention were greater than putting a ball in a mesh net some 10 feet off the ground.

“There is no better feeling than watching kids see an opportunity and then make something positive out of it for themselves,” said McFarlane. “Basketball can be a huge link to helping and just being there. Most of my work happens before, and after, I get to the gym. It’s about connecting with families first, showing them that sacrifices can turn in to wonderful things. But it takes effort, commitment, and a desire to be successful.”

McFarlane was the recipient of the 2021 Coaches Association of Ontario “Susan Kitchen Trailblazer Award”, given to an individual who sets a path for others to follow. For him, it’s a distinguished recognition of his work. Known by many as “Coach Mac”, he views the CAO’s gift of honor to be a signal that goes beyond the study of sport.

“I’m helping young men make wise decisions that will benefit them,” said McFarlane, who has made a lasting impression on hundreds of young people.  “I can relate to these guys who come out, because I used to be just like them. You doubt yourself in so many ways, and I’m teaching them about what traps to avoid and what not to do.”

McFarlane may not have the pedagogy of a social worker, but his ability to try guide youngsters in need of assistance and cope with problems in their everyday lives, has certainly been very productive.

“I just want these amazing kids to understand that they can be successful and be contributing positive members of society,” he said. “I see myself in every one of these kids and I tell them, there’s a great deal of pride and accomplishment for them – and to go for it.”

As the Technical Director of Basketball Operations for the Youth Association for Academics Athletics and Character Education (YAAACE), McFarlane knows basketball is a magnet for many teens. His knowledge, experience, and success in the sport, fits right in with the community organization that tries to impact the lives of children and youth in a positive manner.

“It’s about making change – for the better,” he said. “I’ve helped kids turn their lives around and find careers in many areas ranging from teaching to law enforcement. It’s a miraculous turnaround and while some have fallen through the cracks, I know I have been successful.”

McFarlane knows coaching goes beyond sport and when he’s challenged, he’s ready. There have been instances when young teens have challenged authority or even life in the game. His response has been a conversation focussed on accountability, identifying the problem, making the adjustments, and then moving forward.

“The world doesn’t accept excuses,” said McFarlane, admitting that he doesn’t hesitate to offer up some fatherly advice. “It’s my job, my role. Through basketball, it allows me to be the male authority figure that tries to be responsive and supportive of their needs, expectations, and aspirations.”

McFarlane has a competitive side to his role as a coach, thrives on winning games, but at the end of the day, the passion is all about helping and teaching others.

Dr. Ardavan Eizadirad has watched and followed McFarlane for years.

“He has created a culture where people buy in to the high expectations and hold each other accountable as a community,” said Dr. Eizadirad, an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo and also a referee with the Toronto Association of Basketball Officials (TABO).

“I see the success he has in engaging marginalized youth, recognizing where there is a need for care and opening opportunities for them. He believes in the cause, shows the loyalty, and doesn’t do it for the accolades.”

Devon Jones, founder of YAAACE and a teacher with the Toronto District School Board, said that the first time he met McFarlane, he could see a great advocate.

“The work (Jordan) does with these kids is phenomenal,” said Jones. “While he may be a very good basketball coach, his ability to bring the best out of kids is amazing. Discipline is big with him, and he sets standards and insists that they be met. There’s no nonsense in his way of doing things – and I have noticed a huge positive difference in young people.”

Engaging those from disadvantaged and poor under-resourced communities, by providing advice, learning opportunities and year-round comprehensive programs and activities, are things that should be shown as accomplishments in McFarlane’s resume.

A skilled leader, McFarlane will tell you that, in many cases, it’s all about making personal connections. “Find the right people who you can trust, can also help you, point you in the right direction, but then you have stay committed and pick up your end of the deal – strive for success,” he said. “You push these kids to greatness. You bring the best out of them. I know I am making a difference in their lives, careers, and their futures.”


David Grossman is a veteran multi award-winning Journalist and Broadcaster with some of Canada’s major media, including the Toronto Star and SPORTSNET 590 THE FAN, and a Public Relations professional for 45+ years in Canadian sports and Government relations.

There is no better feeling than watching kids see an opportunity and then make something positive out of it for themselves.

Home > Gwen Binsfeld shares her secrets for taking athletes with a disabilities to new heights

Gwen Binsfeld shares her secrets for taking athletes with a disabilities to new heights

CAO’s Empowering Stories from Behind the Bench article series – March 2022

To see people, with a disability work hard at what they want to achieve and stay focused on participating, means more than any physical award.

By David Grossman

There is a great English playwright and poet, known for his distinct classical opening phrase of a soliloquy in the theatrical play Hamlet.

With respect to William Shakespeare, I am going to modify that historical expression to reflect the world of sport. To be more specific, the key role of a dedicated individual, who has devoted more than 30 years to facilitating active lifestyles, and promoting fitness and sport for individuals with physical impairments.

To coach, or not to coach, that is the question?

It’s an easy answer for Gwen (Slater) Binsfeld, a para-alpine coach and a truly sensational individual whose family history may have been somewhat of a factor in her commitment to health, wellness, and fitness of people with disabilities.

An astute human being, Binsfeld is the next person to be recognized in the impactful series “Empowering Stories from Behind the Bench” put together by the Coaches Association of Ontario.

For Binsfeld, and like many others, to be a great coach, you don’t have to be a distinguished athlete. She has made it quite clear that coaches are the experts in motivating and communicating with athletes. Also, critically important, is the coaches’ function of leading athletes through ideal behaviours.

But that takes more than just words. Try leadership.

Back in her high school days, Binsfeld was quite active in a variety of sports, and was selected Athlete of the Year at Toronto’s York Memorial Collegiate, before going on to pursue a degree in Recreation and Kinesiology at the University of Waterloo.

“I lived for sport and if it wasn’t for all the opportunities to compete, I’d likely never have finished school,” she said in a telephone conversation from her cozy home on picturesque Manitoulin Island, located on the north shore of Lake Huron, and about a two-hour drive southwest of Sudbury.

“In those days, you could play all sports, not have to be restricted to one, and it was amazing.”

As a youngster, Binsfeld would remember the times she would visit Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, with her grandfather, a World War I veteran. She would carry his wooden leg when it was time to go swimming.

She also taught her niece, born without a hand, to ski, cycle and be active in various sports. Her hemiplegic son, was the next family member to embrace inclusive sport, and excel at para alpine skiing.

Those may have been early indications of her eagerness, ambition, and devotion to helping people with disabilities. But it was at the age of 19, that she had made up her mind to be a coach.

“I had some wonderful coaches, very special people and tremendous in what they did,” she said. “They were strong figures, encouraged and facilitated. You knew that they cared about you.”

Sport, coaching, leadership, commitment – it was contagious to her.

There was a time when Binsfeld had also wanted to become a teacher. She’s been instructing, cultivating, and guiding people in her own way through the world of adaptive skiing.

Coaches have been good at telling athletes that it’s not whether you get knocked down, but how you deal with it, whether you get up, and the importance of not giving up.

For more than three decades, Binsfeld has been a para coach. Ontario Track 3 and Canadian Adaptive Snowsports, are organizations that were formed by a group of volunteers dedicated to providing people of all abilities, the opportunity to experience the joys of skiing. Since 2008, Binsfeld has been involved in instructing and coaching the Provincial para alpine team.

There were 19 years with Para Alpine Ontario and some 25 coaching and volunteering with the Ontario Track3 Ski Association for the Disabled – an organization formed by a group of volunteers dedicated to providing young people of all abilities, the opportunity to experience the joys of skiing.

Not one to accumulate or brag about awards, Binsfeld was the recipient of the Canadian Adaptive Snowsports Coach of the Year award in 2020.

“That (award) had a great deal of meaning to me – to be recognized by your peers,” she said. “I do what I do, because I enjoy it and it’s meaningful to me in so many ways. To see people, with a disability work hard at what they want to achieve and stay focussed on participating, means more than any physical award.”

Binsfeld may have been somewhat of a pioneer for encouraging people with physical disabilities to strive for the top, always emphasizing to live very day to its fullest. She saw athletes with potential and chose to “get aggressive and build a pathway for them to the Paralympics”.

For her, the goal is not always reaching the podium or the world showcase for athletes with disabilities. There are winners in other ways, too.

“I’m dedicated to helping people of all ages reach their dream, their goal and that may very well be to get them out of a wheelchair and to adaptive skiing – giving individuals a way of enjoying adventure,” she said. “That’s a gold medal.”

Catching her on the ski slopes, you may very well hear that sound of music. That’s because she loves spiritual melodies and singing, what she calls uplifting, and has been in several choirs before the pandemic.

“I often sing when I coach,” she said. “You need to have rhythm and I tell athletes to do the same and have fun. Everything else is a bonus.

“The joy of seeing young participants become skilled and develop, watch their self-confidence soar and life skills go up – that’s all very important to me. The pay cheque is the smile of seeing people reach their goal. It’s contagious and I go home feeling engaged.”


David Grossman is a veteran multi award-winning Journalist and Broadcaster with some of Canada’s major media, including the Toronto Star and SPORTSNET 590 THE FAN, and a Public Relations professional for 45+ years in Canadian sports and Government relations.

“I often sing when I coach. You need to have rhythm and I tell athletes to do the same and have fun. Everything else is a bonus.”

Save $15 and take NCCP Coaching Athletes with A Disability

Home > Christa Eniojukan could teach a Master Class on creating inclusive sport for ALL

Christa Eniojukan could teach a Master Class on creating inclusive sport for ALL

CAO’s all new Empowering Stories from Behind the Bench article series – February 2022

There were times when I thought, becoming a coach, was just not going to be possible. Times have changed, and for the better. I want to continue to help impact change, make things better, cut barriers and create more opportunities

By David Grossman


It’s a word that, in many ways, sums up the determination, grit and moxie of a coach. It’s also a declaration that characterizes Christa Eniojukan.

Watching what she does as a coach extremely well, clearly depicts the tenacity of an individual who has fire in her spirit. To many, from players to observers, the level of inspiration she gives off to those focussed on learning, is like a bolt of lightning in the sky.

In the world of sport, the job of a coach, in many ways can relate to a partnership. It’s one in which that coach, focussing on the development of an athlete, teaches, and advises, that individual to produce results that are beneficial in personal and professional lives.

Eniojukan, in doing just that, is a superb example of ambitions made real.

A positive influence on others, she has taken a leadership role several levels higher. At times, with a flair for brilliance, it’s because of how she has produced phenomenal results with people.

They say that “spirit is a component of human psychology, philosophy, and knowledge”.

Maybe so, but what is vividly clear, when talking with Eniojukan, is her understanding of judgement, awareness, insight, and the foundation that make up a good person.

Born in Montreal, she was raised in Guelph, played a variety of sports at St. James High School and has benefitted from post-secondary studies at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, and later Toronto’s York University. She would go on to earn a Degree in Kinesiology and Physical Education and then graduate from Teacher’s College.

As a player and point guard wearing jersey No. 6 for her school basketball team, she was a ball of enthusiasm. It continued at the post-secondary level, and she was twice chosen Most Valuable Player at Laurier. Now as a coach, Eniojukan has boatloads of poise, assurance, and energy.

She has come a long way since her first coaching job at Toronto’s Rockcliffe Middle School, where she also taught and prepared students for high school. Career and personal development are a priority.

Eniojukan added to her coaching experience by taking on responsibilities with club and provincial teams, as well as through programs at the Ontario Basketball Association. She was chosen head coach for the Academy for Student Athlete Development (ASAD) Durham Elite.

2019 was a big year for her. Eniojukan became the inaugural female basketball coach at Ontario Tech University and was the recipient of an Ontario Coaching Excellence Award presented by the Coaches Association of Ontario (CAO). In the category of “Everyone Matters”, she caught the attention of the selection community for her work in inclusion.

She displayed a thirst for success, was hungry to excel, but the load became arduous. Although ahead of her time in many ways, Eniojukan would eventually make several bold moves.

It started with resigning from teaching in 2021 with the Toronto District School Board, to focus on fulltime coaching. She is now in charge of the women’s basketball program at York – a school that has won only two Ontario university titles in almost 50 years.

For her, it’s another step, and a huge challenge, in the growth of a woman whose focus is to make an athlete understand that she wants the best for her – and not just on the basketball court.

“Life is not all just sunshine and roses,” said Eniojukan. “For a coach, for me, it goes beyond putting a ball in a hoop. It’s about fostering and building relationships. I don’t know it all, but I am always learning about how to help people grow and strive for excellence as a team.”

Articulate and aware of her surroundings, Eniojukan learned about the challenges of a female coach. In many ways, they still exist.

“I remember being the head coach on a club team and referees would ignore me and speak to assistant male coaches,” she recalled. “Times have improved, but people need to understand that women can coach, too.”

Back in 2010, Eniojukan was on the verge of ending her short coaching career. Married and with a family, she questioned herself. Could she successfully devote essential time to her husband and children, as well as be an elite coach on a fulltime basis?

“You need extra support, and that can come in many ways, also flexibility and an understanding by, and from, others,” she said. “It’s not taboo to bring your kids to a basketball practice or have a care giver watching them. I know there are mothers of young families, who choose not to coach or stop altogether, because that network of assistance just isn’t there.”

Building the lives of young athletes with a sense of balance is important to her as is the feeling of accomplishment. Realizing there were additional ways to make an impact, Eniojukan launched an educational and sports program in 2018. She’s the founder of “Active Scholars”.

Call it a summer camp of sorts, combining education with sports and providing a window on the benefits of other skills. Several hundred youngsters have benefitted from this program, and it is now offered in Ajax and Toronto.

It may not all be basketball, but Eniojukan is combining her coaching and teaching skills with character development, emphasizing teamwork values through sports and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.

“As a coach, from a diverse background, you can make a huge impact on the lives of people,” said Eniojukan, who is co-chair of the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Black, Biracial and Indigenous (BBI) Committee.

There are moments of reflection for Eniojukan, especially when taking time to retreat to her younger days. Those were times, when at the age of six, her father, Gary, introduced her to the importance of sport. Later would follow a fueling love for the game of basketball that she attributes to coaching mentors – Eric Stewart, then at the Guelph Christian Youth Organization and Stu Julius, then at Wilfrid Laurier University.

“I learned so much from them and I was allowed to be outspoken, say what was on my mind and be a vocal leader,” she said. “That meant so much to me and the confidence just took off.

Eniojukan was never coached by a woman or an individual who was a visible minority.

“Back then, I never saw myself as a coach,” she said. “There were times when I thought, becoming a coach, was just not going to be possible. Times have changed, and for the better. I want to continue to help impact change, make things better, cut barriers and create more opportunities.”

Mentoring women remains very important to Eniojukan.

“I have always told my players to try their best, be positive,” she said. “It’s okay to lose a game, knowing that you worked hard, and you were that much better than when you started the game.”


David Grossman is a veteran multi award-winning Journalist and Broadcaster with some of Canada’s major media, including the Toronto Star and SPORTSNET 590 THE FAN, and a Public Relations professional for 45+ years in Canadian sports and Government relations.

“It goes beyond putting a ball in a hoop. It’s about fostering and building relationships.”

Home > Craig Campbell shares his secrets for enduring coaching success

Craig Campbell shares his secrets for enduring coaching success

CAO’s all new Empowering Stories from Behind the Bench – January 2022

“As a coach, the positive impact you have and leave on a young person’s life should be something way beyond the game. My feeling is that you’re in the wrong business, if it’s just about victories.”

By David Grossman

This might come as a surprise, maybe even a shock, but minor hockey coach Craig Campbell doesn’t count success by championship banners and trophies.

He might very well fit the description of the typical parent, caring for his family, offering fatherly advice, committed to doing what he can, dedicated, and so much more. But Campbell, when it comes to the important obligation in coaching, looks far beyond the wins and losses.

“Young people are impressionable and it gives people like me, coaches, a moral responsibility of going beyond the ice rink – offering sound advice that they will learn and, hopefully, put to good use in their lives,” said Campbell, who has coached 15 years in the Waterloo Minor Hockey Association.

There are many definitions of the word “coach”, but Campbell has a gift of stretching that term, to be more than just improving performance and maximizing the potential in the sport. He deals with youngsters, those adapting with a thirst for knowledge and others who may often think they’ve learned it all.

“As a coach, the positive impact you have and leave on a young person’s life should be something way beyond the game,” said Campbell. “My feeling is that you’re in the wrong business, if it’s just about victories.”

Campbell was also the recipient of the prestigious honor given to him by the Coaches Association of Ontario – the 2020 Ontario Coaching Excellence award as Male Grassroots Coach.

For him, coaching started like many others. He got hooked on the gig a few years after his son took to the ice for the first time.

“Call it parent involvement at the time, I had coached baseball and made a commitment to the Waterloo Wolves,” said Campbell, who has coaching credentials through Hockey Canada. “Look, I love to win and we all have a passion, but at the end of the day I want to know that my focus on kids is for the right reasons.”

Campbell knows all about societal responsibilities and public involvement.  He is Executive Director of the Kitchener Rangers Community Fund, Rangers Reach. Coaching minors, Campbell is adamant that he returns his players to their families as better people.

“Improvement is not only in skill and hockey development, but there is an obligation to educate these young people by opening them to opportunities with teammates and others,” he said.

Respect, accountability and community are key words emphasized by Campbell to every member of his team. Players are involved in a variety of community events including trips to volunteer at local food banks.

“As a hockey coach, I know there are always challenges for kids who, often, do things in their own way and seem to be empowered with their mobile devices,” he said. “At the end of the day, I do what’s best for 17 players, not one. If I have a chance to deliver key messages, I will deliver them. I also have no hesitation telling parents that, too.”

While the dynamics of many things have changed, and keep changing, that also goes for hockey and coaching. Campbell knows his players are not getting drafted right away to the National Hockey League.

“As a coach, it should not be about one player and, yes, there are always exceptions,” he added. “We build positive relationships that have a bigger impact on a young person than trophies and banners.”

Campbell likes to share his story of the “bubble gum bucket” that goes with the team from arena to arena. It’s about accountability, performance and more. Players know if they have given their best, they get to dip in to the canister.

“It‘s also about awareness and they learn a great deal about themselves,” he said. “To make decisions and to be aware of how they have done, experiences and learn more about commitment and life.”


David Grossman is a veteran multi award-winning Journalist and Broadcaster with some of Canada’s major media, including the Toronto Star and SPORTSNET 590 THE FAN, and a Public Relations professional for 45+ years in Canadian sports and Government relations.

“My feeling is that you’re in the wrong business, if it’s just about victories.”

Home > Preventing Bullying: How Coaches Can Lead The Way

Preventing Bullying: How Coaches Can Lead The Way

According to recent statistics, 47 percent of Canadian parents report having a child who is a victim of bullying. In sports, there can be a fine line between competitive play and bullying that is often mistaken. Coaches can play a vital role in bullying prevention through role modelling and setting behaviour expectations that value team support and respect over winning at all costs.

In this webinar, Lisa Dixon-Well, founder of Dare to Care, will help coaches to develop a common language around bullying behaviour, be better equipped in the early identification of players that are being targeted, and learn how to take a no-nonsense approach to deal with players or parents who are using bullying tactics.

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Coach Responses

What expectations or ground-rules do you implement to combat bullying within your team(s)?

Share your tips and best practices!

Catherine Kerr – Deep River – Soccer

“From the first swim practice, the swimmers are told the expectations re their conduct and the coaches conduct. This is again shared at the parent’s meeting plus the expectation of parents. every problem is followed up immediately.”

Peter Menyasz – Nepean – Soccer

“I talk to my players about making respect for others, and doing no harm to the team (and teammates) as the basis for their behaviour. Going forward, though, I’ll specifically talk about bullying – what it means and how it will be addressed.”

Robert Devine – Windsor – Golf

“As a parent coach in one of the sports I coach, I have zero tolerance for in-person, and/or cyber bullying. It has led to suspensions, also removal from the team. I do this because it also affects the friendship that my daughter has with these kids, and some of these players come to my house on a daily basis.”

Kevin Stevens – Milton – Badminton

“Zero tolerance. A team’s identity should be one of the individuals supporting one another, on and off the field. Constructive criticisms and encouragement to do better or work harder will always be accepted, but not bullying or degrading language.”

Nadine Powell – Richmond Hill – Soccer

“Having players brainstorm to create their own document that reflects team rules/expectations. Then having all of them sign it….in addition to club code of conduct.”

Daniel Milkovich – Burlington – Rugby

“That we recognize our differences but never challenge or demean another person’s dignity or humanity.”

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Home > Athletic Performance and Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport: Are Your Athletes At Risk?

Athletic Performance and Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport: Are Your Athletes At Risk?

Originally called “Female Athlete Triad”, Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S) was termed to include all of the side effects of energy deficiency that can affect any athlete. RED-S can affect athletes of any age, sex and has detrimental effects on bone health, immune function, cardiovascular health and psychological health and ultimately impacts athletic performance.

RED-S is the result of an imbalance that occurs when athletes don’t eat enough to meet the energy demands of training and daily life. Coaches can play a significant role in preventing RED-S by creating a supportive environment for their athletes. You’ll leave this webinar able to identify the warning signs and implement team strategies to maximize athletic performance.

Missed the webinar? Become a CAO Community Member for access to recordings!

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Coach Responses

As a coach, how do you talk to your athletes about nutrition and healthy eating habits?

Share your tips and best practices!

Denise Bussiere – Gymnastics – Nepean

“We discuss snack options and we have info on our website from a Nutritionist.”

Justin Tung – Gymnastics – Toronto

“I find it helpful to emphasize nutrition close to competitions as part of their competition preparation (e.g. encourage carbs before competition and healthy snacks at competition). This is done in person and via electronic reminders.”

Lorraine Gouin – Figure Skating – Ottawa

“Workshops with nutritionists, encouraging healthy eating habits before, during and after practice (team snacks, etc) and eating together at competitions and events even if they are bringing their own food.”

Natasha Vidalin – Multi-Sport – Toronto

“Nutrition is important, it sustains your body, your health and your well-being. Even if you don’t want to have a big meal, at least have a granola bar to sustain you. The worst thing that could happen is that you fainted because you starved yourself, if that happened you would let the team down and your body down, so just don’t do it! Here is some granola bars and some berries (not anything acidic), some coconut water if need be and a few cashews (it is a healthy fat). Nuts an hour before a game everything else when they need it.”

Hossam Refaei – Mississauga

“As a teacher/coach, a lot of my athletes are also my students in the classroom. An entire unit on healthy eating is shared with them which includes the benefits of timing of eating, what you’re eating and calorie intake importance. This is added with talk before practices about what to pack on game days and practice days. We share each others’ ways and what they like to eat before practice time or game day and that could motivate others to eat the same healthy way or find news ways to still have a great meal to increase energy and perform to the best of their ability.”

Rejeanne MacLeod – Curling – Sault Ste Marie

“During competition, I emphasize that we have an early morning so make sure you have a good breakfast to help you fuel yourself for the game and day. Also grab an orange or apple for your break or after the game until we can have lunch. If I notice that an athlete is not eating properly, I will take my player to the side and explain how important it is for your body and mine to be fueled. Ask questions to see if money is an issue or if he/she is able to get to the proper food.”

Diana Clarke – Volleyball – Port Sydney

“As a rule I talk to my athletes about food as fuel to allow them to compete. At tournaments each family is responsible to bring food to share; potluck style. This food is assigned so that it is healthy. I think it is also important to role-model healthy eating, so I’m not eating a burger during a tournament when they are eating veggies and hummus.”

Susan Emond – Ringette – Ottawa

“We talk about staying hydrated in general. During a tournament, we bring healthy snacks and encourage eating for performance. Other than that, there isn’t a set pre/post focus during training. This is something I will be interested in implementing!”

Jason White – Ringette – Minesing

“In volleyball, make a list of foods that each family can sign up for. This way we can somewhat control the foods brought.”

Layth Jato – Soccer – Etobicoke

“My sport is Soccer which is a team sport. Through team meetings or Post-Training group meals we speak and encourage proper nutrition.”

Amanda Kesselring – Boxing – Cambridge

“Explain the importance of healthy eating, eating before and after a game, refuelling, and proper hydration before, during and after a game.”

Marguerite Gagnon – Gymnastics – Thunder Bay

“My athletes are young (ages 8 to 13), so I use a car analogue a lot! A car needs enough gas, oil, water, transmission fluid, etc. to work at it’s best, just like athletes need enough Carbs, protein, fat, water, vitamins and minerals to train and perform at their best.”

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Home > Fitness of the Mind: Mental Health On & Off The Field of Play

Fitness of the Mind: Mental Health On & Off The Field of Play

Enhance your understanding of common adolescent struggles, and the signs and symptoms of issues as they arise, both on and off the field. This workshop will help you recognize early warning signs of difficulties such as anxiety, depression, attention and learning issues, social difficulties and the therapeutic interventions that can help in managing these difficulties your athletes may be facing.

See what Coach-2-Coach is all about!

Coach Responses

What support methods have you used to help athletes struggling with mental health?

Share your tips and best practices!

Allan Singh – Soccer – Mississauga – 5 Years

“As part of our team’s official Player Development Strategy, we have worked with mental skills coaches to develop a customized Mental Strength Training Program for our team. This Program is tailored to the specific needs of our age group (Girls U13) and will be enhanced as the girls age. Examples and activities (to practice the skills being taught) are always related to real-life scenarios – both on and off the field. This did take quite a bit of work to do. But, we have have already developed the Program and all activities available on-line for the girls to review and reference at any time…..on demand, when they need it, wherever they need it.”

Connie Groom – Gymnastics – Ottawa – 40+ Years

“Be attentive, acknowledge, don’t try to solve the problem , just listen, then I ask “how can I help?”

Stephanie Sutton – Softball – Hamilton – 25 Years

“We host a Mental Health Awareness Game – this lets the athletes dedicate their game to someone who has suffered from mental health issues.”

Siu On Wong – Volleyball – Richmond Hill – 10 Years

“Have an open honest discussion with athletes and parents. The only way I can help as a coach is when the families are open and honest with the coaching staff.”

Babila Mohanarajan – Hockey – Toronto – 1 Year

“Talking to other health professionals who can deal with athletes struggling with mental health after they disclosed what they are dealing with to myself as they trusted me.”

Angele Caporicci – Biathlon – Timmons – 15+ Years

“I often do the mental check-in with athletes, stick to a routine, structure in training and practices, debriefs.”

Mike Stinson – Hockey – Chatham – 5 Years

“I think that presence and connection with your athletes is most important. Being there for them constantly, and keeping an open door and open dialogue helps to keep athletes on task.”

Martin Cavanagh – Curling – Hawkesbury – 20+ Years

“Positive bidirectional coaching presence & programing, I try to maintain a safe and nurturing environment and I refer to professionals.”

Tim Louks – Football – Waterdown – 40 Years

“Mental Health supports on campus (University), Psychiatrist by referral from Doctor, performance psychologist, etc.”

Jason Rice – Curling – Guelph – 15 Years

“Sport programs that I’ve been involved with have brought in sport psychology / mental training professionals to work with coaches, athletes and even parents of athletes.”

Lindsay Jackson – Ringette – Oshawa – 5 Years

“Using one on one interaction with players who display symptoms of anxiety, or of ADHD – giving personalized coaching for players who are displaying symptoms to help their confidence on and off the ice.”

Rick Collins – Curling – Nepean – 25 Years

“I personally have been treated for severe depression. I have been open with many people, helping them understand what is happening. I talk to the team, then have had athletes (or their parents) come talk to me quietly.”

Paul Youldon – Ringette – Nepean – 25 Years

“Refer to professionals; team meetings and open dialogue about social media bullying and sharing. Listening and being supportive.”

Gabriela Palomeque – Figure Skating – Greely – 2 Years

“Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, helping athletes to label their emotions and describing what is happening to them so they can find a solution to a problem.”

Andras Switzer – Swimming – Kingston – 5 Years

“I’m open about my own mental health struggles and share my experiences and what I’ve learned from them when they are appropriate for situations. I also tell all my athletes that I am available to talk if they need someone to talk to, and use active listening techniques to help them feel heard and supported.”

Joni McPhail – Figure Skting – Oakville – 33 Years

“As a resource person my team of coaches come to me for support or direction. I have built a team of resource people and sport psychologists that we use as preferred practitioners that we can reach out to for support. We have worked on a model of Best Practices and resources in several different areas.”

Mary Jo Fletcher – Athletics – Windsor – 5 Years

“Recognizing the emotional state and then discussing it directly with the athlete – validates their emotional state and gives them an outlet. Also, encouraging journaling about their experiences for two reasons: to keep track of workouts and then to keep track of emotional states. This allows them to take an objective assessment if a pattern develops.”

Kristina Anagnosti – Artistic Swimming – Burlington – 9 Years

“Offering them a safe space to be able to talk about issues with you. Relaying some of your experiences with mental health when you were an athlete.”

Holly Jones – Cross-Country Skiing – NWT – 11 Years

“Having regular “non-sport” practices, such as goal-setting or mindfulness workshops with the group have helped some athletes connect with and learn about their own mental health. Plus, they’re awesome team-building opportunities!”

Pam Lumb Collett – Gymnastics – Toronto – 40+ Years

“Initial Parent Meeting, being proactive and discussing if your child has issues (physical – local physio), (mental – come to us and we can refer sport experts from our federation) etc. make a list of resources and encourage parents to address issues and open dialogue with coaches to resolve and collaborate.”

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Home > So Your Season is Cancelled – Now What?

So Your Season is Cancelled – Now What?

Tips for talking to your athletes about disappointment

The cancellation of playoffs, meets, tournaments and even whole seasons during these times have been a huge source of disappointment to coaches, athletes and parents.

Even as some businesses across Ontario start to reopen, it appears that it will still be some time before we’ll be back together in groups, which is almost always necessary for sports.

Below we’ve put together some talking points to help you and your athletes get through this season’s setbacks and start preparing for the next one.

  1. Tell them it’s okay to be disappointed
    For some athletes, cancellations may mean they will miss their final competition or season at a specific level or with a certain team. For others, it’s been something circled on the calendar for months, a motivating force to look forward to during difficult times. The loss of these things are huge disappointments that are not easy to get over quickly, and that’s okay to acknowledge. Encouraging your athletes to verbalize their sadness or frustrations is a helpful first step towards working through their feelings and moving past these setbacks.
  2. Discuss how sports helps us to become more resilient
    Sport helps to teach us that we can handle whatever is thrown at us. The lessons that we teach on the playing field can be extrapolated to our current situation and help our athletes to develop resiliency and grow as people.
  3. Remind them that the training and hard work they have put in isn’t for nothing
    It’s crucial to remind athletes that all of the effort and dedication they have put in to preparing for this season has not gone to waste. Any time an athlete has spent training has inevitably helped to improve their skill set and fitness, and this will still be beneficial when they can resume competition. Setbacks – such as an injury or an illness – can cause the loss of a season at any time. There will be more opportunities in the future and all of their hard work will eventually pay off.
  4. Focus on small, achievable goals
    Helping your athletes to create a routine and control what is possible right now is a huge step towards achieving a level of normalcy during this time. There are many ways that coaches and teammates can still stay connected, even when they’re not face-to-face. Try virtual training sessions or team hangouts to keep cohesion high among teammates.
  5. Help them focus on what they want to achieve in the future
    Now is a great time to talk about goal-setting and encourage your athletes to spend some time reflecting on their pathway in their sport and what they would like to achieve in the short and long term. This extends to coaches too. Are there any workshops or professional development courses you’ve wanted to do, but never had the time? Now is the perfect opportunity.

Sports gives us the foundation to adapt and stay resilient during difficult times. By reminding your athletes that they already possess the tools necessary to cope with these setbacks, you will help them to adjust to the current situation more quickly, and continue to develop into even better athletes and people.

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Home > Staying Safe Online

Staying Safe Online

For Coaches, Sport Organizations, Parents & Athletes – Staying Safe Online

The new “normal” of virtual coaching and online training sessions is something that may be new to a lot of coaches, athletes and parents during these times. These virtual meetings allows teams and athletes to continue to train and stay connected, which is great for maintaining positive mental and physical health. While it is something that may be new to many, there are some risks that could accompany the rise in these virtual environments.

We’ve put together these resources and guidelines so that sport organizations, coaches, parents/guardians and athletes can enjoy all the benefits and reduce the risk.

Guidelines for all adults to keep in mind:

  • Get parent/guardian permission
  • Remember The Rule of Two
  • Eliminate one-to-one electronic messaging
  • Remain transparent and professional

For Coaches

  1. Keep your communication professional and transparent.
    Ask open-ended questions, then listen to what they say and validate their feelings (“It is OK to feel disappointed or angry.”).
    Should you need to communicate with an individual athlete, always copy their parent/guardian or another adult. Don’t communicate one-on-one with individual athletes over personal text or social media.
  2. Ensure virtual sessions are appropriately secured and are password protected.
    Remind athletes not to forward the links to anyone outside of the team without your permission.
  3. Restate team expectations about respectful communication and online behaviours.
    This is a great time to remind athletes that their Athlete Code of Conduct is still in effect during physical distancing. Review inappropriate behaviours like cyber bullying, hazing, and harassment.
  4. Highlight physical safety when suggesting home workouts.
    Ensure home workouts are appropriate for the athlete’s level and don’t require resources the athlete doesn’t have at home. Remind athletes to hydrate properly and take breaks when needed.
  5. Be mindful of your athlete’s home life – look for warning signs of distress and/or abuse in the home.
    Provide emotional support and report any suspected or known child abuse to the police and/or your Local Children’s Aid Society.
  6. Never be alone with a participant without another screened coach or screened adult present. (The Rule of Two)
    Any virtual lessons must be observable and interruptible by another screened adult, such as another coach or parent/guardian. Keep doors open and wear appropriate clothing.
    Get permission for all virtual lessons.
    Recording sessions are recommended, where that capacity exists.

For Parents/Guardians

  1. Restate expectations about appropriate behaviour online.
    Talk about how you expect your child to behave and how they should expect to be treated by others during these virtual settings.
  2. Learn about the apps and websites your child is using, including how to control the privacy settings.
  3. Have your child use webcams in a common area or a room with the door open.
    Make sure they are aware of what and who is visible in the webcam or video shot. Cameras should also be covered when not in use.
  4. Maintain open lines of communication with your child and pay attention to their emotional state.
    Even though you may be at home with your child all day, it is important to check-in with them about their day and see how they are feeling. Staying connected with friends and teammates is incredibly important for their mental health but can also open the door to hurtful behaviour.

For Athletes

  1. Use your webcam in a common area or a room with the door open.
    Be aware of what and who is visible in the shot. Cameras should also be covered when not in use.
  2. Make sure any informal team gatherings include all teammates.
    Hanging out with your teammates virtually is a great way to stay connected, beat boredom, and feel better. Make sure all of your teammates are invited in team huddles or game nights.
  3. Say something to your coach, parents, or another trusted adult if you notice someone being cyber bullied, harassed, or exploited.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or reach out to a trained professional for any issue – big or small.
    Connect to Kids Help Phone which operates 24/7 providing counselling, referral and information for young people.
    Text CONNECT to 686868 or call 1-800-668-6868 or use the Live Chat online at kidshelpphone.ca/live-chat.

We all know how important sport is to our athletes, our communities and society. It is equally important that we all play a role in ensuring that sport continues to stay safe both on and off the field of play.

Video calling, group messaging, online training etc., allow us to stay more connected than ever before. These tips for online safety will helps us all reduce risks associated with online communication, and instead enjoy the benefits of these virtual environments, so that we can all get through this difficult time together.


Open 8am – 8pm, 7 days a week, this national toll-free confidential helpline for harassment, abuse and discrimination provides a safe place for victims and witnesses to report their concerns.

Call or text 1-888-83-SPORT (77678)
Contact by email at info@abuse-free-sport.ca

The Canadian Sport Helpline exists to provide advice, guidance, and resources on how to proceed/intervene appropriately in the circumstances.

As a resource you can provide your athletes and participants, Kids Help Phone operates Canada’s only 24/7, professional counselling, referral and information service for young people.

Text CONNECT to 686868 or call 1-800-668-6868
Live Chat online or through the app at kidshelpphone.ca/live-chat

Young athletes can chat confidentially with a trained, volunteer Crisis Responder for support with any issue – big or small.

This rule serves to protect minor athletes in potentially vulnerable situations by ensuring that more than one adult is present at all times. Download the Rule of Two guidelines to understand how you can support the Rule of Two in your organization.

If you have received advice from legal counsel or your insurance providers, the advice of your lawyers or insurance providers supersedes the information contained in this article.

References: USA Centre for Safe Sport, Coaching Association of Canada