By MELODIE LARIVIERE
In Canada hockey is one of the most talked about sports. Jenni Bauer can talk about it with the best of them. And thanks to her knowledge the rec centre’s facility co-ordinator was selected as one of Team Ontario’s coaches for Hockey Canada’s Under-18 National Championships.
Bauer has been involved with sports since she was four years old. She participated in multiple sports including hockey, power skating, baseball, soccer and lacrosse. While in university she was the team’s goalie as well as a javelin thrower.
“I think it was just natural. I’m pretty active and I’ve always been active. My siblings played sports; my parents gave us the opportunity to get involved in sports. So it’s just a way of life for me and now I’m here which is pretty cool,” said Bauer.
The process to achieving the title of coach for Team Ontario started when Bauer applied in early spring last year. After that she was selected to attend a camp in July, which was a selection camp for the players and the invited coaches were evaluated.
“We worked with a coach mentor who used to be the head coach for the national women’s hockey team, the Olympic team. So the mentors worked with the coaches and both evaluated the players. Over Thanksgiving weekend we had camp basically with our teams in preparation for the tournament that was two weeks ago,” said Bauer. “The event is run by Hockey Canada and each province sends teams to the tournament so it’s really neat to see the talent, not only from the players but the level of coaching that’s there.”
As a player, Bauer believes her team experience has taught her more than she would have thought. The real-life experiences she learned through her sporting career helped her see that just like in a game, in life you win or you lose sometimes. This can give a good perspective on setting your goals.
“It’s more the process of getting to that point. You have goals that you set and you see if you can reach them and you evaluate to see if you can reach them the next time and how to improve from that,” said Bauer
She has even tried to bring the lessons she’s learned to Conestoga College. She makes her department feel like a family and that their opinions and perspectives are important. She believes this makes her feel more cohesive with her teams.
Bauer has moved on from her playing days and is now focused on coaching and the college. She is currently coaching the Cambridge Rivulettes in the Provincial Women’s Hockey League, which is the level girls play before going to university or college. Coaching high school girls has proved tough for Bauer, with the girls’ vulnerability. She said they often worry about failing or not being good enough. Bauer uses her coaching tactics to break through to them.
“I try to do the wash away all those things so I make myself vulnerable to the players right away and I’ll tell them if I forget a drill when I’m drawing it on the board I tell them it’s OK to make mistakes. But I also try to hold them accountable as well so it’s definitely a balancing act,” said Bauer. “I have high expectations for the players that I coach but I don’t think it’s fair as me as a coach to ask them to meet those expectations if I don’t have their trust so it’s kind of like we have to build that relationship and trust first and then I can really push them to achieve things.”
Bauer identifies coaching as two things. She sees the coaching side where you teach them how to play with the X’s and O’s. Then there’s the intangible side which Bauer uses to gain the players trust in her and their teammates before she moves on to the teaching side. She coaches by teaching her players commitment, accountability and dedication.
Although Bauer doesn’t like to acknowledge her accomplishments in her sports career, she thinks it was great to be part of Team Ontario.
“I was a head coach last year, played Division 1 hockey before, all these things are really great experiences but I just feel really lucky to be able to have had them. People tell me they are accomplishments and I can understand why, but they are just something I like to do, I don’t really think twice about it,” said Bauer.
Her advice to others: Work hard because it is noticed and it creates opportunities.