The hiring of a new coach to a sports team is often a cause for understandable excitement. It's used as a means of positive change and newfound prosperity, as a new coach brings a fresh assessment of the team's situation and the a chance to improve upon the work done by their predecessor.
Last season, the University of Calgary Dinos women's hockey team, after six straight years of decidedly disappointing play, made enormous strides in the right direction by restarting the program from scratch and assembling a roster made almost entirely of talented first-year players. The result was their best finishing record since 2000, injecting a pulse into a hockey program that was thought to be long dead, as well as laying a solid foundation for the future. The team has made its desire to leave the Alberta College Athletic Conference and return to its rightful place among other Canadian universities in Canadian Interuniversity Sport very clear. Over the summer, they hired celebrated women's hockey legend Danielle Goyette as their new head coach.
Goyette brings an unheard of wealth of playing experience to the table. Her resume spans a prolific 16-year career with Canada's national women's hockey team, where she captured eight World Championships, as well as one silver and two gold Olympic medals. She was also given the great honour of carrying Canada's flag at the opening ceremonies of the 2006 Olympics in Torino.
Goyette was been a member of the National Women's Hockey League's Calgary Oval X-Treme and the Olympic Oval's High Performance Female Hockey program. Since the Oval's training program recently merged with the Dinos women's hockey program, someone with experience from the Oval made sense as the new coach. Goyette believes that the merger will do wonders for the young Dinos.
"The Oval will help the Dinos be successful with their training," she commented. "Working together will only help the team go in the right direction."
Although the approaching season is her first attempt at leading a team from behind the bench as opposed to on the ice, Goyette remains confident in her abilities, gained from a plethora of experience from an extensive playing career.
"The transition from player to coach wasn't hard at all," she stated. "In my last three to four playing years, I became more aware of what was going on with the teams around me. I was learning the way coaches thought and why and how they made decisions and can now use [these lessons] myself."
Goyette quickly adopted her team's goal of clawing their way back into cis after taking the position. With the majority of last year's core players slated to return with more experience, she is confident it will be possible to achieve their goal.
"The girls are happy to be back, with higher expectations than before," she said. "They're committed to get back into the cis and it's also my goal as a coach to see that happen. This team is ready to go to the next level and that level is the cis."
Goyette said she is aware the team will still have to work hard to transcend their curent league. She stresses work ethic and teamwork as the main keys to success for the season that now looms on the horizon.
"To be successful we'll have to play as a team," she noted. "Each girl just playing hockey isn't good enough. We're going to win and lose as a team."
She added that as women's hockey is getting bigger, teams have to keep training to stay competitive.
"The girls know that if they don't always practice and work hard, they won't play," she said. "It's not about what you did last game or yesterday, it's what you do every day that makes all the difference. "
The lady hockeysaurs' tenure in the ACAC lasted longer than originally planned and Goyette maintained that now is the time for all of that to change. She remained both optimistic and excited that the only direction for the Dinos to go is up.
"This team will surprise a lot of people this year," she said. "We still have lots of work left to do, but the heart is there, and that's the main thing. This team should be in the cis, and we're going to do everything we can to get there."