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    CCAA Soccer apprentice: Madison Tzimas
    Courtesy of CCAA:
    CCAA Soccer apprentice: Katie Moniot
    Courtesy of the CCAA:
    CCAA Soccer apprentice: Martina Pettenon
    Courtesy of CCAA:
    CCAA Soccer apprentice: Kayla Blacquiere
    Courtesy of CCAA:
    CCAA Soccer apprentice: Jessica Whyte
    Courtesy of CCAA:

    The following stories are from September 22, 2023 is courtesy of the CCAA at, announcing the national acknowledgement of the CCAA’s Female Apprentice Coach Program in soccer.

    The Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association’s (CCAA) Female Apprentice Coach Program (FACP) is designed to facilitate the transition of student-athletes into coaching roles. Now in its 19th year, the program builds the coaching skills and confidence of student-athletes, and enhances the leadership skills of mentor coaches. A total of 13 first-year aspiring female coaches will participate in the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association’s (CCAA) Female Apprentice Coach Program (FACP) during the 2023-24 season.

    The FACP, which is funded in part by Sport Canada, is designed to identify and support female graduating student-athletes who demonstrate the desire and skills for coaching by providing them opportunities to share in the coaching experience in the CCAA.

    Leading the way is CCAA Soccer, which will feature five apprentices this year.

    Madison Tzimas – St. Clair College

    Katie Moniot – Saint-Boniface

    Martina Pettenon – Douglas College

    Jessica Whyte – SAIT

    Kayla Blacquiere – Lethbridge College

    Below are the five coaches for 2023-2024..

    CCAA Soccer apprentice: Madison Tzimas

    CCAA Soccer apprentice: Madison Tzimas

    In the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA), Madison Tzimas will be mentored by Steve Vagnini at St. Clair College with the Saints.

    Tzimas took pride in wearing the green and yellow at St. Clair and was honoured to be team captain with the Saints.

    “When the season began, I was able to make use of my soccer knowledge and skills on the field to be an effective player for the team, but I soon realized that there was more that I could do for the team,” she said.

    As a result, Tzimas began helping her teammates during practice drills and demonstrating ways to help them improve their skill and technique. Having developed those leadership and communication skills, she became more confident individually, as a teammate, and most importantly as a leader.

    “Taking on the role of a leader both on and off the field made me enjoy the sport even more, since I was making a difference in the lives of others,” said Tzimas, who has also obtained her Personal Trainer Certificate.

    Through the FACP, she hopes to gain experience designing and teaching structured practices with drills that will enhance both the physical and mental abilities of student-athletes.

    “My goal as a female coach is to create an environment that allows female players to develop and grow, allowing them to reach their potential in a sport they are passionate about,” said Tzimas.

    She is a natural fit for the FACP according to Reid Innes, Director of Athletics at St. Clair College.

    “The long-term plan is for Madison to continue to stay on the staff after this season,” said Innes. “St. Clair College has a strong mandate to focus on succession planning and especially female coaches for our female teams.”

    CCAA Soccer apprentice: Katie Moniot

    CCAA Soccer apprentice: Katie Moniot

    In the Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference (MCAC), Katie Moniot will be mentored by Tonya Derkson at l’Université de Saint-Boniface with Les Rouges.

    Derkson had the pleasure of coaching Moniot as a youth at the U13 club level and again last season, her final year with Les Rouges.

    Moniot spent five seasons at Saint-Boniface, helping Les Rouges capture three consecutive MCAC Women’s Soccer championships as well as four straight Women’s Futsal titles. Last season, she was named a CCAA All-Canadian and CCAA Academic All-Canadian.

    Arguably the most decorated female athlete in USB and MCAC history, Moniot will now to her attention to coaching.

    “There is a true need for female coaches and specifically francophone female coaches in the sport community here in Manitoba,” she said. “I am ready to fully commit my time to the team and bettering myself as a coach and an individual through this program.”

    The former co-captain at Saint-Boniface has already gained some coaching experience, having worked with the Collège Béliveau varsity girls’ soccer team. Moniot is highly intelligent, strong and demonstrates a contagious passion for the sport.

    She’ll work closely with Derkson, who has had the opportunity to mentor female coaches, develop mentoring programs and lead all-female coaching certification courses with the Manitoba Soccer Association. Derkson has a strong passion for creating opportunities for women in coaching and has been a continued advocate for the mentorship of female coaches within the Manitoba and Canadian soccer landscape.

    “The idea of females leading females is important because it allows the players to see a replication of the game by someone of the same gender, someone who has played in their boots,” she said.

    The Women’s Soccer program at Saint-Boniface proudly features an all-female coaching staff in 2023, according to Derkson.

    “My philosophy when working with coaches is to give them the tools to build their own coaching pathway, to help grow their confidence in becoming a head coach and my ultimate goal is to have one of them take my job one day,” she said.

    CCAA Soccer apprentice: Martina Pettenon

    CCAA Soccer apprentice: Martina Pettenon

    In the Pacific Western Athletic Association (PACWEST), Martina Pettenon will be mentored by Chris Laxton at Douglas College with the Royals.

    Motivated by her passion to be a respected team leader at Douglas, Pettenon embraced the captain role in her final year with the Royals. Under the guidance of Laxton, who was instrumental throughout her journey with the team, Pettenon embraced a more prominent leadership role on the field.

    “Recognizing that my voice and impact on my teammates translated into success in my own performance, I aspired to be a leader who influenced more than just game outcomes,” she said.

    For the past two years, Pettenon has also served as a coach in the development centre at the North Shore Girls Soccer Club (NSGSC), where she had the opportunity to share her knowledge and experiences with aspiring young players ages 8 to 13.

    Pettenon believes that her diverse leadership experiences will make her an asset to the Royals as an apprentice.

    “This role has been incredibly rewarding, allowing me to positively influence youth athletes who look up to me,” she said.

    Pettenon played her entire five-year career with Douglas and unfortunately, as with many student-athletes across the country, her collegiate career was impacted due to the pandemic. Despite the break in competition, she remained engaged during the lost 2020 season.

    “Martina’s maturity and leadership were integral to allow our student athletes to stay connected with each other and the program through the pandemic and returning to the pitch amidst much uncertainty,” said Laxton, who is entering his 10th season at the helm of the Women’s Soccer program at Douglas.

    His commitment and dedication to the sport is demonstrated through his involvement in soccer at all levels. As testament to his passion in building the coaching capacity, Pettenon will be Laxton’s third apprentice (Kelsey Acaster in 2017 and Samantha Kell in 2019) in the FACP.

    There are two apprentices are participating in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC).

    CCAA Soccer apprentice: Jessica Whyte

    CCAA Soccer apprentice: Jessica Whyte

    At the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT), Jessica Whyte will be mentored by John Talerico with the Trojans.

    “Jess is an excellent coach and an even better mentor for our female student-athletes,” said Lauren Kucera, Manager, Athletics & Recreation at SAIT. “I believe she will represent this program in a very positive light.”

    Whyte competed at the ACAC level in Women’s Soccer for four seasons before suffering an ACL tear in her final year. She has great knowledge of the league and what it takes to be a successful student-athlete at this level.

    “I understand the balancing of academics and soccer, and how to manage many of the distractions and believe that I can provide a type of mentorship that is unique to my role,” said Whyte.

    She has already gained coaching experience having spent the last six seasons working at the McKenzie United Soccer Club in Calgary as the Girls Director.

    “During this time, I have been able to work with girls, just getting a first taste of the sport and girls who love the game and are playing at their highest level,” she said. “I am passionate about instilling confidence and having girls play sport as I believe it.”

    Whyte will work closely with Talerico, who has more than 30 years of coaching experience. The duo is already quite familiar with one and other having worked together the last four seasons at the club level.

    CCAA Soccer apprentice: Kayla Blacquiere

    CCAA Soccer apprentice: Kayla Blacquiere

    Lastly, at Lethbridge College, Kayla Blacquiere will be mentored by John D’Agnone with the Kodiaks.

    After being named ACAC Rookie of the Year with the Red Deer Queens, Blacquiere transferred to Lethbridge University, where she’d spend the next four seasons with the Pronghorns. Now, Blacquiere believes she is well-suited to embark on a coaching career.

    “My ultimate aspiration is to become a head coach for a Women’s Soccer team in the ACAC,” said Blacquiere. “I believe that participating in this program will provide me with the necessary guidance to turn my dream into a reality.”

    At Lethbridge, she had the opportunity to work under three different bench bosses, which exposed her to a variety of coaching styles. This experience enriched her understanding of effective leadership and provided valuable insights into the dynamics of team management.

    Now, Blacquiere is eager to enhance her knowledge of drill progression, tactical game strategies, and the art of adapting formations based on specific game situations.

    “As a natural leader who has consistently played a pivotal role on every team I have been a part of, I am confident that my leadership skills and passion for the sport make me well-suited for a coaching role,” she said. “I am committed to creating a positive and supportive environment where athletes can thrive and reach their full potential.”

    Blacquiere’s combination of natural leadership abilities, interpersonal skills and an unmatched understanding of team makes her the ideal selection for this apprenticeship, according to Todd Caughlin, Athletics & Recreation Services Director at Lethbridge College.

    “Kayla is maturing into one of the most natural leaders in sport that I have had the privilege to work with,” he said. “The FACP looks for strong female leaders that want to give back to the sport they love and by doing it in the most professional way – Kayla will accomplish this with no questions asked.”

    This is a fantastic program to get young players to transition into the coaching ranks where there have traditionally been barriers to female coaches. The game needs more female coaches and the program is a great way for individuals to gain access to the coaching ranks.


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