Female Apprentice Coach Program: ACAC

July 4, 2014 - The 2014-15 Female Apprentice Coach Program participants from the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference:

Institution: The King's University College
Sport: Volleyball

Apprentice: Alyssa Downing

Former Eagles women’s volleyball player Alyssa Downing will be returning to The King’s University College – as a female apprentice coach.

Downing, who was inspired by great coaching early in her volleyball career, now wants to utilize those same leadership skills to help positively influence others. “I was blessed with the opportunity to play for a phenomenal coach (in high school) that allowed my love for the game of volleyball to flourish,” she said.

In her final two years of high school, Downing was encouraged to take on an assistant coaching role for a junior high girl’s team. Her leadership skills developed and she was named team captain in her final two years at the high school.

“I believe this was one of the main reasons that I was recruited to play volleyball at the King’s University College beyond just the skills I possessed as an athlete,” said Downing.

Playing at the collegiate level further enhanced her knowledge of the game and under a variety of coaches; she developed into an even stronger player each season.

She’s thrilled to return to the ACAC and join King’s as an apprentice. “I would love nothing more than to learn more about the game from a coaching perspective and develop leadership skills that can aide me in my future coaching opportunities,” she said.

Downing majored in psychology and plans to share relaxation and visualization techniques she’s learned. Moreover, she is looking forward to working with first-year student-athletes and sharing her experiences as a middle blocker. “I hope to pass on my knowledge of this particular position in order to improve our middle blockers and strength up the middle of the net both offensively and defensively,” she said.

“What better way to (demonstrate my love for the game) than to be a female apprentice coach under the coaching staff that made me into the athlete and type of leader that I am today,” she said.

Coach: Grace Scott

Grace Scott, head coach of The King’s University College Eagles Women’s Volleyball Team, is no stranger to the CCAA’s Female Apprentice Coach Program.

Scott was a mentor coach on two other occasions and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. In fact, she has been involved in mentoring young coaches in some capacity every year that she has coached in the ACAC.

“I believe mentoring is an excellent means to develop future leaders and to help people grow in character and learn new skills,” said Scott, who is actively involved in teaching and assisting coaches on how to improve their coaching abilities and leadership skills.

“In as much as I am a volleyball coach I also see myself as a ‘life’ coach, in which it is very much my desire to pass on to others the lessons that I have learned and to enable them to be successful both as coaches and as people,” she said.

Scott, who is a Level 3 Coach and an NCCP Facilitator in the Competition Stream, is looking forward to working closely with Downing.

“I see this program as an opportunity to not only continue what I am currently doing, but to formalize the training of the apprentice coach so that it can be even more beneficial to Alyssa, in her future endeavors,” she said.

Institution: Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT)
Sport: Basketball

Apprentice: Kirsten Molesky

Kirsten Molesky has a long resume as a player and as a coach. Now, she will get the opportunity to utilize her leadership skills at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT).

While pursuing her Bachelor of Physical Education, Molesky had the opportunity to play for the MacEwan University Griffins for three seasons and University of Alberta Pandas for one season before finishing her collegiate playing career at NAIT with the Ooks.

“I believe that I have shown a strong sense of leadership and competition in my past experiences and that I can show players how they can also be leaders and winners,” said Molesky.

Her passion for teaching is evident: Molesky has coached girls volleyball in Westlock, AB and she was also an assistant with the Holy Trinity and Swoosh spring league teams in Edmonton. In addition, she has been involved in many different camps including the MacEwan basketball summer camp, University of Alberta shooting camp, Swoosh girl’s camp and smaller clinics at St. Mary’s in Westlock.

Molesky is looking forward to returning to NAIT. “As apprentice coach at NAIT I would be able to gain a much higher understanding of what is needed of a coach at the elite level,” she said.

Down the road, Molesky may look into pursuing her Masters in Coaching. But for now, she has plenty to learn. “I would like to learn the duties of both assistant and head coaches,” she said.  “In this position I would like to help with recruiting by learning what to look for in new players and how to approach them to bring top level recruits to what is now a strong women’s basketball program.”

Greg Meropoulis, Manager of NAIT Athletics, believes Molesky will be a great addition to the institution. “Kirsten has developed a great rapport with her coach and he can see the passion Kristen has for the sport and the potential she has as a coach,” said Meropoulis.

Coach: Todd Warnick

Todd Warnick is entering his 13th season as a head coach in the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association and the veteran bench boss fully believes in the Female Apprentice Coach Program.

Warnick, who has instructed at Vancouver Island University, Concordia University College of Alberta and NAIT, supports the FACP’s goals of increasing opportunities for female coaches at the CCAA level and fostering professional development among female graduate student-athletes.

“Knowing that Kirsten is looking to pursue high level coaching as a career path, there is no better starting point than this program and I believe that my experience as a long time CCAA coach can provide the mentorship needed for Kirsten in the program,” he said.

Warnick, who is a certified Level 3 coach, is looking forward to sharing his insight on values, goals and work required to build a successful program. “I pride myself on educating and mentoring my student athletes to be leaders beyond the game and welcome the opportunity to work with Kirsten as she takes the first steps on what I believe will be a very successful career path for her,” he said.

Institution: Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT)
Sport: Badminton

Apprentice: Jessica Yu

The NAIT Ooks are adding a former national champion to their coaching staff this season.

Jessica Yu, a three-time gold medalist at the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association Badminton Championships, has joined the team as a part of the Female Apprentice Coach Program.

Yu, who took Business Administration classes at NAIT from 2010 to 2014, won national titles in women’s doubles (2012, 2014) and mixed doubles (2013).

 “Badminton has always been part of my life growing up as my family were members of the Royal Glenora Club in downtown Edmonton,” said Yu, who played college badminton in 2005 for MacEwan University before moving to the United States to complete her orthodontist program. In 2010, Yu returned to NAIT and resumed her CCAA badminton career.

Yu chaperoned at the 2005 Alberta Summer Games and was an instructor at the 2011 NAIT Summer Camp. What she lacks in coaching experience, Yu will make up for with her playing experience.

“My recent playing experience and success at the National level will be a strength in helping the NAIT team succeed this upcoming season,” said Yu. “I have also kept respectful relationships with returning players, which should make the transition from athlete to coach easier.”

Mentor coach Jordan Richey believes Yu’s competitiveness and will to win make her a valuable asset to NAIT. “I feel that Jessica will excel within our program as we have several elite level players that she would be able to relate to and players who already respect and admire what Jessica has done on the court,” he said.

Coach: Jordan Richey

Jordan Richey, NAIT’s badminton coach, returns to the Female Apprentice Coach Program as a mentor coach.

In his 16 season at NAIT, Richey has won several national championships. He was named the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Assocation Badminton Coach of the Year in 2012 and 2007.

“His team has always been near the top of the CCAA rankings and the program has won the ACAC Team Champoinship four years in a row,” said Linda Henderson, NAIT’s Director of Athletics and Recreation.

Richey believes Yu will be a great fit at NAIT, joining assistant coach Shannon Lim, another former CCAA national champion, who has been with the program for 12 years.

“She will be attending all of our team practices and will also attend all five of our exhibition tournaments,” said Richey, who is a Certified Level 2 coach. “Her current position is quite flexible making it a smooth transition for her to coach within our program."

Institution: Concordia University of Alberta
Sport: Badminton

Apprentice: Samantha Wong

Samantha Wong, who recently made two appearances at the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association National Badminton Championships, is returning to Concordia as an apprentice.

After five seasons as a member of the Thunder, Wong is ready to make the transition into coaching thanks to the Female Apprentice Coach Program.

Wong placed 4th at the 2011 national championship and 5th at the 2013 event – in women’s singles – and she cherishes her CCAA memories. “This was a huge accomplishment for me to make Nationals and an achievement that I will always remember,” she said.

Wong has helped coach her old high school badminton team and last February, she coached the Zone 6 Alberta Winter Games squad. “This was an amazing experience and it has inspired me to help at the college level and continue my development as a coach,” she said.

Wong’s mentor, Kevin MacAlpine, has been her coach since high school and he’s been a great influence on her. “His actions have greatly inspired me to give back to the community and encourage others to puruse the sport that they love,” said Wong, who graduated from Concordia with a Bachelor of Science Degree.

“Without Kevin’s dedication and commitment to this sport and to this team, I would not be where I am today,” said Wong, who is already looking ahead with plans to get her NCCP certification.

“We definitely see Samantha’s coaching potential,” said Joel Mrak, Athletics Department Administrator at Concordia. “We are going to support her as much as we can so she becomes the best coach possible.”

Coach: Kevin MacAlpine

Mentor coach Kevin MacAlpine has been a member of the Concordia University College of Alberta badminton program since 2001.

He played for the Thunder from 2001-05 and then became an assistant coach at the University in 2006 before taking over the head coach role in 2009. He is a Certified Level 2 coach.

In 2010-11, MacAlpine was named the ACAC and CCAA Coach of the Year.

“I have heard an abundance of positive things about Kevin and what he has done for the sport of badminton not only at Concordia but in the community at large,” said Mrak, who is new to intitution.

MacAlpine is still involved in coaching at the high school level and he recently took on a position as ASAA Commissioner for Badminton Provincials. In the past 10 years, he has also coached Zone 5 for the Alberta Winter Games.



The CCAA is a national sport organization that enriches the lives of student-athletes through intercollegiate competition.

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