Ooks' Taylor Card recognized in CCAA Female Apprentice Coach announcement

Ooks' Taylor Card recognized in CCAA Female Apprentice Coach announcement

FACP 2018-19: Volleyball Participants

The Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) is proud to announce its 2018-19 participants in the annual Female Apprentice Coach Program for the sport of Volleyball.


Apprentice: Taylor Card
Mentor: Benj Heinrichs


It took plenty of persistence for Taylor Card to finally become a member of the Ooks Women's Volleyball team. She's not ready for it to end now.

After three seasons with the Ooks, Card will join the coaching staff at Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) as an apprentice. She'll be mentored by head coach Benj Heinrichs.

"I have so many great experiences as an Ook and the coaches were a huge part of that – I want to be able to do the same for existing and new players entering the program," said Card. "With my knowledge of the game and experience as a player, I believe that I can be an asset to the Ooks as I develop my coaching skills."

If not for incredible determination and perseverance, Card wouldn't be at NAIT.

After graduating high school, she contacted head coaches at several institutions in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC). Card was fortunate to receive an invite to the NAIT identification camp but was eventually turned away. The following season, she decided to attend open tryouts with the Ooks, only to receive the same bad news.

"Although being turned away twice may be discouraging, I went to open tryouts again the next year and finally earned a spot on the team," said Card. "After two long years of waiting to achieve my goal, I had finally accomplished it."

Now, the focus shifts to coaching and Card anticipates a smooth transition.

"I know that with the help of Benj, I will be given the right tools for the job to be successful in this role this season," she said.

As for Heinrichs, he is confident that Card will make the most of the Female Apprentice Coach Program opportunity and be a tremendous asset to the Ooks.

"Her strong attributes as a leader and her commitment to building a strong team with great culture will certainly benefit not only the student-athletes at NAIT but the entire coaching staff as well," said Heinrichs.

The Ooks bench boss is a former CCAA and U SPORTS student-athlete himself as well as a Team Canada alumnus. Card will benefit greatly under his mentorship according to John Bower, Athletics Director at NAIT.

"He is highly committed to the development of the game of volleyball, especially as it pertains to empowering young women to be leaders," said Bower.

Élans de Garneau, RSEQ

Apprentice: Mariane Demers-Ménard
Mentor: Ian Poulin-Beaulieu

The Élans de Garneau will welcome back former Women's Volleyball team captain Mariane Demers-Ménard as an apprentice this season.

Demers-Ménard will be mentored by her former coach, Ian Poulin-Beaulieu in the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ).

"As a former player, Mariane will bring a great deal of experience, dedication, leadership and professionalism to the team," said Poulin-Beaulieu. "Having had the opportunity to coach her for three years, I know that she is committed to excellence and working hard."

While suiting up for the Elans from 2014-17, Demers-Ménard was gradually initiated into coaching. First, she was invited as a guest coach at a summer camp for high school players after her second season before then getting involved as an assistant coach with Garneau's U15 team.

These experiences gave her enough confidence to accept an offer from Club Essor's sport-study program to be the head coach of the U15 team at a tournament in Virginia last May.

The outcome of the event was beyond her expectations.

"The experience allowed me to develop my professional identity and my ability to manage a group of teenage girls," she said. "Having further built my confidence through this meaningful experience, I would now like to continue my involvement in volleyball – to share my passion and continue to develop my identity as a future teacher."

As for Poulin-Beaulieu, he has contributed to the development of Women's Volleyball as coordinator of Club Essor and the Capitale-Nationale region's Espoir category since 2014.

"He is patient, experienced, diligent and has a constructive approach to teaching the game," said Éric Lavigne, Directeur Adjoint at Cégep Garneau. "He is an excellent educator and enjoys sharing his knowledge with developing coaches."

Poulin-Beauieu and Demers-Menard may very well get the opportunity to work together for more than one season.

"As we are already familiar with Mariane's abilities, our organization hopes to have her join our coaching team on a long-term basis," said Lavigne. "Her volleyball knowledge and skill will be a great asset to us and she will also be able t

o share her experience as a student-athlete."

Durham Lords, OCAA

Apprentice: Tess Newey
Mentor: Tony Clarke


Durham College has enjoyed success with the Female Apprentice Coach Program in the past and the Lords will once again bring back a former Women's Volleyball player as an apprentice in the CCAA.

Tess Newey, a Durham graduate, will be mentored by former coach Tony Clarke this season. She'll join a coaching staff that includes Kourtney van Staalduinen (nee Cyr), who participated in the FACP during the 2014-15 season.

"I have had the chance to witness many of my former athletes stay in the game through coaching," said Clarke. "Tess will be able to pass on the passion of the game to a younger generation."

Clarke, who took over the Lords program in 2014, was named the CCAA Coach of the Year in 2017.

"During his time at Durham, Tony has proven himself to be a generous and giving leader who trains his athletes hard and encourages them to do their best and reach their potential, both on and off the court," said Ken Babcock, Director of Athletics at Durham College.

Newey also suited up for the Canadore Panthers in the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) as well as Brock University in U SPORTS.

"Tess misses the game and wants to expand her volleyball IQ as a coach now," said Clarke. "She is self-motivated and has aspirations to educate herself to become an effective coach."

Newey has already accumulated some experience on the coaching front. She has assisted with the Clarington Grizzlies U16 Girls team as well as the Courtice Secondary and Intermediate School girls squad. And in 2016, she was given the wonderful opportunity to assist with the OVA Region 4 team.

"The enjoyment and satisfaction I felt being a part of these teams has fueled my desire to work on becoming a coach," said Newey. "Working with young athletes, empowering them to be all that they can be through mentorship and teaching fair play has become a passion that I hope to impart on others through coaching."

Newey already considers the Lords bench boss as a long-term mentor; Clarke coached her when she played for the Northumberland Breakers in the Ontario Volleyball Association.

"I have tremendous respect for Tony both as a coach and a person," said Newey. "I feel that the opportunity to participate in the apprenticeship program under his mentorship will allow me to develop my skills and enable me to move forward with coaching at a higher level."

St. Clair Saints, OCAA

Apprentice: Taylor Fitzgerald
Mentor: Jimmy El-Turk


After spending the last three seasons as captain of the Saints Women's Volleyball program, Taylor Fitzgerald is set transition into coaching as an apprentice with her former team.

She will be mentored by Jimmy El-Turk, her former coach at St. Clair.

"Using my experiences as a player and captain, I hope to develop a unique coaching style that is based on mutual trust between the players and fellow coaching staff," said Fitzgerald. "I can relate closely to how players receive information and apply skills in the sport of volleyball."

El-Turk, who was an assistant coach with the Team Canada Junior Women's Program last summer, has seen tremendous growth in Fitzgerald's leadership qualities. He believes this will translate directly into coaching.

"She has been the athlete who leads our game plan conversations, being already exposed to advanced tactics and has a great understanding and care for those around her," he said. "She has already been a coach without knowing it and I am hoping that I can be a part of the path that sets her into a more permanent coaching role."

St. Clair College has a strong mandate to focus on succession planning and Christina Gatto, Director of Athletics at the institution, sees a future for Fitzgerald in coaching with the Saints.

"The long-term plan is for Taylor to continue as part of our coaching staff after this season," she said. "St. Clair's goal is to increase the number of qualified female coaches on staff and we believe this will be a huge step in the right direction."

Prior to her three seasons with the Saints in the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA), Fitzgerald suited up for the University of Windsor Lancers (U SPORTS).

Now, in a completely new role, Fitzgerald is confident she can continue to make a positive contribution at St. Clair because of her hard-working attitude and willingness to learn.

"By using my past experience in the sport, I hope to engrain a positive culture that can be associated with the volleyball program by teaching the value of respect, honesty, integrity and hard work," she said.


The King's Eagles, ACAC

Apprentice: Jenna Smith
: Grace Scott

During her first season of Club Volleyball, 15-year-old Jenna Smith had the pleasure of playing for the U16 Grande Prairie Wolves under head coach Grace Scott. Now, a decade later, Smith will be mentored by Scott as part of the CCAA's Female Apprentice Coach Program.

"I consider it somewhat fate that my first season as a player over 10 years ago and now my first season as an assistant coach, is with the same incredible woman," said Smith.

Scott recalls appreciating Smith's passion for the game as well as her drive to work hard and continue to improve.

"Her maturity, work ethic and knowledge of the game at such a young age made her a natural leader on our team," said Scott, also the Director of Athletics at The King's University.

Smith twice represented Team Alberta (U16/U18), before suiting up for the Mount Royal University, Cougars for five years. In her first season at Mount Royal, the Cougars captured Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) gold and earned silver at CCAA Nationals. The next season, Smith and the Cougars moved to CIS (now U SPORTS).

"It was fun to compete against her team in the ACAC and to see how she had grown as a player," said Scott. "I continued to follow her team as she became more of a starter and eventually a captain on her team for her last three years."

Smith already has some coaching experience; she worked with club teams in Calgary from 2011-16.

"Working with young athletes over the years has been an incredibly humbling and rewarding experience," she said. "I look forward to working alongside Grace as her love and knowledge of the game is infinite and will only assist me in continuing my own personal and professional growth within this sport."

Smith, who plans to be a secondary school teacher and coach, will bring a sense of passion and connection to the student-athletes at The King's.

"As a recently graduated player, I have the ability to relate to the girls on an athlete level while also acting as a bridge from the players to the coaching staff," she said. "Through my love for competition, speaking the truth and leading through action, I hope I will be an asset to this team."

As part of Scott's role as Director of Athletics, she spends significant time with other coaches in the Athletics department in an advisory and mentorship capacity. Scott, who has been the Eagles Women's Volleyball head coach for 10 years, believes mentoring is an excellent means to develop future leaders and to help people grow in character and learn new skills.

"Mentoring younger coaches is a huge part of my overall coaching philosophy and is something that I will continue to do whenever I have the opportunity," said Scott. "I have female mentors in my own life who have a significant impact on holding me accountable to being open to change and constantly looking for ways to improve what I do and how I lead."

Douglas Royals, PACWEST

Apprentice: Juliana Penner
: Jeff Ross

The Douglas Royals Women's Volleyball team will welcome back a familiar face this fall. Former captain Juliana Penner will return to the program as an apprentice coach.

Penner, who spent three seasons with the Royals, will be mentored by Jeff Ross at the Pacific Western Athletic Association (PACWEST) institution.

Penner knows the important role a coach has and feels strongly about how her collegiate experience changed her life for the better.

"Having knowledgeable coaches and mentors who cared about my development as an athlete and person throughout my career in the CCAA helped shape me into the person I am today," said Penner. "They assisted in building my confidence, leadership and volleyball abilities while equipping me with skills that would help me later in life."

Among those individuals are several female coaches who have acted as role models and mentors in Penner's life. It's been through their leadership that Penner has realized coaching at a high level is something she could see herself doing one day as well.

Penner has gained experience through several coaching roles during her time at Douglas College. She coached an U17 club team in 2015 and traveled to Haiti on four separate occasions with other collegiate student-athletes to coach sport development camps in the city of Les Cayes.

At the completion of her collegiate career in 2017, Penner continued her academic studies and involvement with the Royals Athletics department and the Women's Volleyball program in an administrative capacity.

"Within this role, she has gained an exploratory insight into the governance, administration and policy delivery which has contributed to her decision to pursue a coaching career," said Brian McLennon, Manager of Athletics at Douglas College.

With the Royals, Penner hopes to help build confidence in the student-athletes and guide them on a journey of self-discovery while teaching the necessary skills to be the highest-level athletes they can be.

"I want them to believe in their potential, gain life skills, confidence and discover that their personal identity is based on so much more than their athletic achievements," she said.

Penner is a former recipient of the CCAA National Scholar Award and in her final season at Douglas, she was named a conference all-star and led the Royals to a silver medal at the PACWEST Championships.

"Her lead-by-example leadership style, hard work ethic, dedication and loyalty were the cornerstones for our success," said Ross, who is entering his third season as head coach of the Royals. "Always willing to mentor and help new student-athletes, it was no surprise when she expressed interest in the CCAA FACP initiative."