Story courtesy of the CCAA
A pair of former Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association soccer stars have kickstarted their coaching careers thanks to the Female Apprentice Coach Program.
In the PACWEST Kelsey Acaster of the Douglas Royals was mentored by her former head coach Chris Laxton this past soccer season.
A couple of seasons ago, Acaster captained Douglas to its first-even PACWEST title and fourth-place finish at the 2015 CCAA Women’s Soccer National Championship in Peterborough, ON.
Heading into the 2017 season, Acaster was unsure how she would mesh with the team, particularly working with several student-athletes she once called teammates.
“The team and coaching staff made it an easy transition and welcomed my input, experience and mistakes, which helped me grow,” said Acaster, who suited up for the Royals for four seasons. “The student-athletes aided in my increase in confidence and encouraged me to try new things with them to find my bearings.”
When it came to practice drills and coaching points, Acaster found success when she related back to her experiences as a player. This brought perspective into her explanations and coaching tactics that further benefited the players.
Acaster, who previously coached U12 girls teams at the BC Summer Games, knew she’d be working with someone she already trusted in Laxton and that he’d give her the freedom to explore in the early stages of her coaching career.
“I have learned that there is a time for serious and a time for fun and Chris is able to balance this,” said Acaster, who learned the two can intermingle and meet the needs of the team.
“This is something that you cannot read in a coaching manual or learn at a camp, but something that you learn from spending a lot of time with this group of student-athletes and taking time to get to know them,” she said.
The Royals qualified for CCAA Nationals once again this season and Acaster’s experience – this time as a coach – was unforgettable.
“I had a great time going to Nationals as a student-athlete and the experience was almost completely different as a coach,” said Acaster. “It was interesting to see how some of the logistics and planning worked, as well as being responsible for the overall well-being of the student-athletes.”
The PACWEST champion Royals placed fifth in Halifax, NS.
“They are a great bunch of women and I am very fortunate that I was able to experience National Championships with many of them as a fellow teammate and now as a coach,” said Acaster.