National Coaches Week profile: Nicole Ebert

Sep 25, 2015

Nicole Ebert is the 2014/15 recipient of viaSport’s Coach of the Year Award in the category of Recreational/ Grassroots.The recipient of this award is a coach who demonstrates outstanding achievement in developing athletes’ skills and deveopment at the grassroots and recreational level. 


Name: Nicole Ebert   
Sport: Speed skating
Hometown: Vanderhoof, BC
Number of years coaching: 10
Coaching style in one word: Encouraging
Word or phrase your athletes will always hear you say: “Dig deeper!”


How did you get your start in coaching? 
Living in a small town meant there was always a need for volunteer coaches, so I started coaching soccer and cross country skiing.  I was asked by my old skating coach to help start a speed skating club in Vanderhoof, BC. Having not put skates on in 20 years, it was a bit nerve-wracking, as they expected me to be the coach! I quickly signed up for a coaching clinic in Fort St. James and started coaching a month later with 12 skaters!


What is the transition like from athlete to coach?  
I have always enjoyed the technical aspect of sport so transitioning (in some ways) was quite easy. I gradually learned how to explain techniques in a variety of ways, looking for that ‘aha moment’ when the athlete finally really understands. It helps to be able to remember the good and bad times as an athlete when helping coach kids through those times.


How would your players describe your coaching style? 
Encouraging, and rooted in explanation; then trying to make sure the athletes experience it physically using a variety of drills. It is important to be flexible and adapt workouts if a common theme comes up.


What is one of your favourite coaching memories? I was working with a younger skater who had been struggling with crossovers for months. One practice I was trying yet another way to get the feeling of movement and it all suddenly came together. She was so thrilled! Those are the moments we all coach for!  Also, I love coming to our older group practice with teenagers just there for exercise and to hang out with kids skating at a high performance level. They all spend time socializing and encouraging each other.


What do you think is the most important quality of a good coach? I was never a high performance athlete, but have always been involved in sports. One of my main focuses has been to encourage a lifelong love of fitness and activity, irrespective of results.  Keeping things varied, fun, but still challenging is the goal of each practice. It’s important to be open with the athletes and sensitive to what else is going on in their life, as sport is only one piece! I have also found it is critical to keep goals age-appropriate for kids and parents, and to remember that our sport is a late-developing sport so we don’t burn kids out too soon.


What does it mean to you to be recognized as the viaSport Grassroots Coach of the Year? It’s hard to describe the feeling. I feel honoured to be chosen but there are so many fantastic coaches around Vanderhoof, it feels like it should be a shared award! My coaching style and development has been hugely impacted by the support from other coaches. There are some tremendously committed people out there who are willing to mentor and support new coaches, and cheer on each other’s skaters for them – I am so thankful.