New year, new coach
Coming off a successful 2016/2017 season, the Trojan’s women’s hockey team is back this year with new challenges to face, most notably a new head coach.
Kelsey Leifson, who has been playing hockey since she was four, said she’s excited to be taking the positon of head coach.
“I think just a successful program is always the easiest goal to say,” said Leifson.
The beginning of the 2017/2018 season is going to be a big transition period for not only Leifson, as she gets used to her new role, but for the girls playing on this year’s team.
For the returning players, it’s about gaining familiarity to the styles and systems of a new coach, and the same could be said for the new players, whether they are coming out of a midget team or transferring from another school.
“For me it’s being able to weather the storm a little bit and obviously produce a successful season out of it.”
Leifson described the season so far as hectic since she is still learning the daily operations and organizational aspects of managing the team.
“I’m super lucky because the staff that we have brought along… we have a couple of returning staff from last year, which are really helpful because they know a little more about the process and the school,” Leifson said.
“Everybody kind of brings something different to the table, so it makes my job a lot easier when that happens.”
Leifson also said that assistant coaches live in the shadow of the head coach and as a result, they don’t have the same expectations to live up to.
Looking back on her time as an assistant coach, Leifson would describe herself as a sponge, taking in as much information about what goes on behind the scenes as she could.
“It’s really a team thing, so having a solid staff in place and having coaches from different perspectives can be super successful in just helping the program forward.”
Leifson was hesitant when she was first offered the position, as she had originally planned on returning to coach the bantam AA team she had coached last hockey season. She ultimately decided the chance to coach college hockey team was a great opportunity.
“Wade [Kolmel, the athletic and recreations director,] and Bob [Murray, the athletics manager,] gave me a chance to do what I want with the program that has been run by the same person for nine years,” Leifson said.
“They kind of just gave me the power to do what I want to do with it, although that seems pretty daunting at times, it’s also kind of inspiring and just exciting to be able to make something mine, especially something at the college level.”
Last season the team finished in second place and Leifson recognizes that the expectations placed on this season are going to be high, but is excited for it.
“It’s understanding the process that we’re not just taking that same team and stepping back into it. There is a learning curve that goes with it.”
Leifson described her style of play as one that is more about a quick transition and puck possession.
She wants her team to play a strong defensive game and, “to be able to basically turn defense into offence really quickly.
“It’s a step by step process over the next few weeks,” said Leifson.
The new head coach has specific tactics and skills she wants the team to learn before they play their home opener on Saturday, Oct. 7.
“We’ve got a plan in place to be able to walk in that direction so just kind of picking pieces out and plugging away at it.”