Trinity Western alum Alicia Perrin (’15) is returning to Langley this fall to join the Spartans women’s volleyball coaching staff, as the four-time Canada West all-star and two-time All-Canadian is one of 18 former student-athletes who are participating in the inaugural U SPORTS Female Apprenticeship Coaching Program. Perrin is joined within the program by fellow Spartan alum Sarah Neufeld (Cleveland, ’13), who will join the coaching staff with the University of Calgary’s women’s basketball program.
Funded through Sport Canada, the new program aims to increase the number of females in coaching positions across Canadian universities, by matching apprentice coaches who have recently graduated, with a mentor coach in one of the 11 U SPORTS-sanctioned sport offerings for women.
“We’re excited to officially launch the Female Apprentice Coaching Program,” said Lisette Johnson-Stapley, Chief Sport Officer at U SPORTS. “As we all tackle the unprecedented challenges currently facing Canadian sport, this initiative will open new doors and provide the tools for success to recent alumnae, who aspire to become coaches themselves in the near future. We appreciate the support of our partners at Sport Canada for helping us make those dreams a reality.”
Perrin comes back to TWU having spent the last five years both playing professionally abroad and internationally with Team Canada. The former Spartans middle capped her university careering by leading TWU to its first-ever women’s volleyball national championship in 2014-15 and in the process was named a Canada West First Team All-Star and a 1st Team All-Canadian. Perrin remains Canada West’s all-time career leader in blocks per set, averaging 1.365 over her five-year career at TWU. Her 512 career blocks has her second in the conference, trailing only fellow Spartan alum Katie Devaney (’18), who had 532. Perrin’s 1287.5 career points also has her 10th all-time in Canada West history.
Most recently, Perrin, who has been a mainstay with Canada’s national side, played professionally in Spain with Sanaya Libby’s La Laguna.
Meanwhile, Neufeld was part of the TWU women’s basketball program from 2011-13, averaging 9.8 points and 25.4 minutes per game with the Cheryl Jean-Paul-coached Spartans. She has since coached with Mount Royal University from 2015-18 and is part of the coaching staff at the Calgary Basketball Academy.
The 18 inaugural participants were selected from a total of 26 applications, and collectively represent eight of the 11 sports – soccer, cross country, track and field, hockey, basketball, volleyball, swimming and wrestling – as well as all four U SPORTS member conferences.
Each apprentice coach competed in varsity sport over the past decade, with nine having previously gone on to assistant coaching roles either with their own university athletic program, or at another U SPORTS member institution.
The selection committee itself also included equal conference representation, featuring one member from Canada West (CW), Ontario University Athletics (OUA), Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) and Atlantic University Sport (AUS).
All participants in the program will be a member of the coaching staff at their respective schools. Where possible, they will take part in team practices and games or meets at both the conference and national levels. Each apprentice coach will also attend at least one National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) professional development activity, while also providing support in areas such as student-athlete skill development, offering pre-game, in-game and post-game feedback, and assisting with recruitment, video analysis, statistics, scouting and academic mentorship and supervision. Job duties may vary due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The funding can also be used towards additional professional development courses and seminars in the field of coaching. The first year of the program officially runs until Apr. 30, with Sport Canada funding already committed as well for the 2021-22 edition.
2020-21 U SPORTS Female Apprenticeship Coaches
|Alicia Perrin||Volleyball||Trinity Western||2010-15||2020-Present|
|Emily Clarke||Cross Country &|
Track & Field
|Jennifer Mathurin||Basketball||North Carolina State||2013-17||–|
|Kala Stone||Cross Country|
Track & Field
|Sarah Neufeld||Basketball||Portland State||2007-10||–|
|Cait Stiles||Softball||St. Clair College||2011-15||–|