College Head Coach Talk with Kiera Lyons

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College Head Coach Talk with Kiera Lyons

Kiera Lyons grew up in Ryley Alberta, a town of 400 an hour east of Edmonton. She played 1A high school basketball as well as a myriad of other sports and athletics.

After going through the provincial team program and helping re-establish her high school as one of the best 1A programs in the province, she played two years for the Augustana Vikings and helped lead them to their first playoff appearance in 8 years. She then played three years as a Huskie at the University of Saskatchewan- a team that had just graduated 5 starters the season before she arrived. She finished her career as a captain with a Canada West championship and two Final Eight appearances.

Since moving back to Alberta she has been a mentor, a coach, a public speaker, and a broadcast analyst all within the world of basketball. She has worked with the NAIT women’s program in previous years, as well as the Lakeland Rustlers as a player development coach, and last summer was an assistant coach with the reigning 2021 Canadian Elite Basketball League Champions, The Edmonton Stingers.

On May 17, 2022 – Kiera was named the head coach of the NAIT Ooks women’s basketball team.


Coaches prepare and train individual athletes or teams for competitive events. They are employed by national and provincial sports organizations, professional and amateur sports teams, sports clubs and universities or they may be self-employed. This unit group also includes sports scouts who identify and recruit athletes for professional sports teams. They are employed by professional sports organizations.

Job Forecast

The job prospects vary across Canada depending on the province or territory.

Employment Requirements

Completion of the National Coaching Certificate program is usually required for individual and team sports coaches in all sports.

National Coaching Certificate Level 3 is usually required for provincial coaches.

National Coaching Certificate Level 4 is usually required for coaches of national team athletes.

A degree in physical education may be required.

Experience in and technical knowledge of the sport is required.

Salary Range

Low: $12.50/hr.
Median: $24.00/hr.
High: $45.05/hr.

(Visit the Canadian Website For Most Recent Numbers)

Full Length Episode:

Complete Episode Transcript

Today’s guest is Kiera Lyons.

Here’s our job talk a College Head Coach.

Welcome to The Job Talk Podcast.

Where we talk with people who love their jobs.

Our guests open up about their challenges, surprises and secrets to success in their industries through conversation and we explore their careers, past work experiences, and the education that got them to where they are now.

Congratulations on being named head coach of the NAIT Ooks basketball team.

You must be excited.

Very excited.

It’s nervous, but very excited.

Do you feel like you’ve landed in your dream job? Yeah, my mum actually explained it in probably the best way.

You know, talking to her after I got it and how excited I was and how I’ve had so many people that I’ve known for a very long time, like in the basketball community that in Edmonton it was a big part of growing up for me.

And then I kind of got disconnected from it for a little bit, moving away to Saskatoon and then coming back and not really playing a whole lot of coaching when I moved back and.

But she said, It sounds like you’ve landed in a soft spot.

And that’s kind of exactly what it feels like.

It’s a lot of support from all different areas of the basketball community and just my, you know, supportive community in general.

And that’s kind of exactly how it feels.

It’s people really rooting for me.

And, and if it does, it’s life is funny how things work out, but it does really feel like I’m in the right place.

Let’s back up a little bit and talk about where you grew up.

Where did you go to high school? So I grew up in Ryley, Alberta.

It’s a town of between four and 500, about an hour.

45 minutes to an hour east of Edmonton.

And that’s that’s where I went to school from.

I mean, I went to Holden for Elementary, which they’re another small town.

But anyways, it’s from kindergarten all the way until I graduated high school.

Growing up in a small town was the level of competition high enough or did you have to look elsewhere? I had to go elsewhere at a certain point.


I ended up spending lots of time in Edmonton, not just for basketball, but I played fast ball and baseball and hockey.

I did some track and field and those types of things in Edmonton.

Growing up in a small town has a lot of benefits.

One of them being able to play everything, you know, like in all my school sports, I not only played all of them, but was expected to do everything as well because there’s only so many female athletes in your school.

So that was one of the benefits.

But one of the things that I found at a pretty young age was that I needed to go elsewhere to be challenged and pushed like skill wise, athletic wise and just, you know, a plethora of different things that I had to go go elsewhere.

When did you decide to focus on basketball Um.

I mean, I the first time that I started really understanding that, you know, I was actually good at basketball was when I was in the summer going into ninth grade.

I tried out for a provincial team, and anytime I tried out for a provincial team, it was always kind of going in with the mindset of just finding out where I fit in in the province, like not really having any expectations of making teams.

It was just like, I know where I fit in in my community and surrounding and I want to know, you know, where I stack up against other girls in the province.

And I played provincial team on in a couple of different sports but basketball, it was going into grade nine.

I tried out for the U15 and I tell this story a lot because I don’t know that I was ever actually told that I made the team that year.

So my, my coach was Kelly Boucher.

I learned a lot from her.

She’s a hard ass, but I definitely learned a lot.

But it was never every time I went into a meeting.

So you have a morning session and afternoon session and you go into your meeting with the coach and they kind of tell you where you stack up or they, they, you get cut.

And every single time I went in, it was, I can’t cut you.

I can’t I can’t cut you.

You’re on the bubble.

I can’t cut you.

And it just continued that way.

Every single meeting I had was I can’t cut you until all of a sudden I was like, so I’m on the team and they can’t get rid of me, so I’m on the team.

So that was when I started realizing that basketball was was something that, you know, I could excel at.

And then it came down to when I was, I think in the 11th grade where I had to start choosing between sports and the three that were kind of my main focus were hockey, basketball and fast ball.

I could continue to play fast ball because it was a different season in the summer.


Even after my first year of college playing basketball, I played basketball that summer, but hockey and basketball were the same season and I needed to decide, you know, which one I was going to focus on because it became kind of a full time job at that point.

And it was some of it was heartbreaking.

It was very hard for me to do, but it was a really good lesson to learn in, you know, trusting my gut into, you know, what was best for me and what I wanted and try not to get bogged down too much in, you know, overthinking things.

It was just like, this is the information.

How do you feel about it? And then going with my gut and it was it was basketball.

It was definitely.

And and I do think a big part of that comes from being in a small school.

Basketball, one player can make a big difference.

You know, I could really I could control the game.

And we in my 1A career, we were quite successful.

And because I had a large impact and I had other teammates, obviously that had large impacts, too.

But I felt like I impacted the game more in basketball than in any other sport.

And I guess I must have liked that a lot.

What was What was your first post-secondary experience? I went to Augustana so it’s Camrose is it’s a it’s a University of Alberta campus.


So I knew that I wanted to go university eventually.

But going from a 1A school to university right away was a little bit daunting and I kind of wanted to take just steps like appropriate steps for me to be successful and set myself up the best way that I could.

So I went to Augustana, the coach there, I had a lot in common with, you know, she played university she was young, you know, knew how to go from college to university, and I could also take university classes that made it easy for me to transfer when I was ready and it worked out well for me that way.

So you spent two years at Augustana? I did.

What league do they play in? The ACAC.

So the same, same league as NAIT.

So the same, same league that I’ll be coaching in next season.

After your time at Augustana, your next post-secondary experience was at the University of Saskatchewan.

Is that correct? Yes.


And they play in U Sports.

I believe.

Yeah, it was.

It was CIS.

When I played.

But it is.

It’s U Sports now.

Sorry, my cat was jumping up on the table, but yeah, it it’s U Sports.

So the university level.

So it’s, you know, the, the way that I will explain it to some people is the jump from high school to college is, you know, a similar kind of jump from college to to university.

Let’s talk about your career as a student athlete at the University of Saskatchewan.

What is it like to compete at a high level while taking university? So I spent three well I spent four years in Saskatoon with three years as a student athlete.

You get five years eligibility.

So I used two at Augustana and then finished up my career at the UofS I kind of bounced around a little bit in my which as we continue it’s a bit of a theme in my life to bounce around because I didn’t really know what I wanted to take in school.

Like I didn’t know what I wanted to do.

I didn’t know what career path I wanted to follow.

And so, as always, I took classes that I enjoyed that I found interesting.

So that ended up being psychology and biology.

So that’s that’s where I got my degree in was psych and bio being a student athlete, it’s tough.

It’s it is a it’s a very tough thing to be able to do.

But an experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything, it it just gives you so many skills and confidence to be able to succeed as an athlete and as a student.

And, you know, I look back now and it just set me up for the success that I’ve had now.

You know, being able to manage the stress and being able to manage your time and and also understanding that if you put in the work that there are good things that will follow, whether that success is in wins and being a basketball player or being successful outside of it, you know, being able to work within a team, being able to work for, you know, authority figures and get the best out of what they’re trying to teach you and to stress management and, you know, all of those things it’s I try and tell the girls that I’m, you know, I’m talking to now and recruiting and my own players that you you only get five years to do this and it will benefit you for the rest of your life.

And, you know, it’s it feels those five years feel like a very long time when you’re in it because it’s it’s hard but I look back now and it was such a small amount of time and it’s such a privilege to be able to do that.

I just encourage, you know, everyone that has the opportunity to do it, to do it, because the what you learn from it is just invaluable.

You were put in a leadership position by being named captain.

What kind of a captain were you.

God, I was still figuring it out.

It it’s kind of been a natural thing for me.

Like most teams that I’ve been on, I’ve just sort of fell into a natural leadership position, you know, and there are teams that I was, you know, two, three years younger than the girls that I played with.

But by the time that I was, you know, playing with my peers, it was always kind of a natural fit I don’t know.

I think I look back and of course, I see a lot of mistakes that I made as a leader and as a captain.

And I try and learn from those things as well.

I think for the most part, I was a lead by example because that’s, you know, a strength of mine is that I worked very hard all the time.

I always pushed myself to my my limits as best I could.

But I was young and learning and I’m still young and learning.

And I look back and I think I’m a bit harder on myself than maybe I should be but lead by example for sure.

I’m always, you know, trying to push my teammates to be the best version of themselves, just like I would hope that they do for me.

But yeah, always, always changing and adapting and trying to learn from those experiences.

Did you have success while you were there? Yeah, we I went to Nationals two to the three years I.

We went to Nationals, yeah, two out of the three years and got a bronze medal at CanWest my first year second year.

Don’t think we medaled.

And then the third year we were like my fifth year we we were Canada West Champions and we’re fourth at Nationals that year.

So it was, it was pretty good.

I mean, obviously, like there are things that I wish we could have done.

And I always look back and like, oh, if I would have done this or I could have done this, we would have had a better year or whatever.

But the fact that I went to that we went to the final eight tournament, two out of the three years and came with two can West medals and one being a gold.

Pretty grateful for that and you know, pretty successful in terms of an athletic career.

This CIS career.

What is it like to graduate and have your athletic career come to an end? It was hard.

Yeah, it was very hard.

I was the only I like my experience.

I was the only one that graduated from the women’s and the men’s team.

Thankfully, one of my teammates like I mean, thankfully for me, selfishly for me, one of my teammates decided she wasn’t going to continue.

So we had each other going through that.

But you don’t no one really prepares you for it.

And but you retire and you essentially grieve a piece of who you are without any warning.

And that year, you know, you finish your season if you’re lucky enough, you finish your season at the highest level you’ve ever played at.

So we won CanWest We went to Nationals.

We’re playing on TV.

It’s the highest level of basketball in your career.

It’s the absolute peak.

And then all of a sudden you play that peak game and then you’re done and then you’re done.

Like, it’s, it’s it’s really not a slow thing.

It’s just like this and it’s over.

And the first couple of months, honestly, were fine because at the end of your season, you’re tired, you’re burnt out, and after five years, your body hurts.

You’re, you’re exhausted from your core.

And so the first couple of months, it was it was a bit liberating and being like, oh, I don’t have to be anywhere.

I don’t have to do anything.

I mean, I still went to open gyms and all those types of things because that’s where my friends were and they all continued.

And but once the season started in September and my friends go back to, you know what I’m used to and I don’t, and I’m kind of figuring out what’s next.

And that was it was really difficult and having conversations with people afterwards, like asking me so now what? Or like, what do you do? It went from being the easiest answer in the world, like, oh, I’m a basketball player to I don’t know, I’m not sure what I am anymore.

And and you do you put in so much work for so long, for as long as I can remember.

It was driving places, working out, getting in the gym, playing games, sacrificing birthdays and family events for this high level of competition.

And then all of a sudden it’s just kind of over.

And it’s also not necessarily on your terms either.

Like if you continue to play afterward, unless it’s injury or other circumstances, you kind of get to decide when you’re done.

But in university, like you get five years and that’s it.

And if your fifth year isn’t what you were hoping or it didn’t progress like you wanted, and then you just it’s just over.

You don’t get another year, you don’t get another try.

And I look back now and one of the reasons why, you know, I went into broadcasting after was because my dreams were so small as an athlete.

You know, I didn’t think about playing professionally.

I didn’t think about what came after university because my dream was university.

And I could have played pro afterwards if I had put some work into it.

But it was never something that I thought of because my dream kind of ended.

I didn’t even dream of a national championship.

I dreamt of a CanWest championship because that was what I saw.

The Pandas playing.

And and I did that.

And then it was like, OK, like, you know, I achieved that.

And so I, I just, I, I think about how small my dreams were and how growing up in Ryley the boys in my class who and no disrespect to them, but I was a much more committed and skillful athlete than all of them.

And they got to dream about playing in the NHL.

And I didn’t have something like that that WNBA wasn’t shown here.

I didn’t get to see the NCAA tournament.

I, you know, I wasn’t exposed to those things, especially growing up in Ryley.

And so what I did see was CanWest and the Pandas play in that.

And that was what I dreamed about.

And that was and I did that.

And then it was kind of like, oh, there’s so much more that I didn’t realize was even out there.

And even the things that I did hear about playing professionally, it was always kind of in a negative light, you know, oh, you’re going to move away and not make any money and come back and have to live with your parents.

When you’re 40 and you won’t be married and have kids.

And so it was never something to like strive for.

It was almost like, well, you’re just going to sacrifice your whole life to go play.

And it was it was kind of scary to think about.

So it wasn’t something that was put in a positive light or, you know, shown to me in a way that was something to dream about.

And that makes me sad for, you know, the younger version of myself.

But it also motivates me to make that different for the girls that play sports now and be able to follow your passions as far as you want to and not have it end on someone else’s terms because you don’t know that there’s more out there for you.


Can you give any advice to the athlete that is graduating and how they can handle their high level of competition coming to an end? I think the biggest thing for me and everyone kind of goes through it differently but I do know that a lot of my teammates and a lot of my friends that have graduated have gone through the the grieving process and and trying to figure out where you fit in in the workforce and and also finding something that you’re passionate about because as much as it makes it more difficult when you graduate, it gives you a standard as to how you should feel about what you’re doing.

You know, like basketball wasn’t always my favorite thing.

I always loved it, but I didn’t like it all the time.

It made life difficult.

And it was it was hard and it was emotional and but I was also very passionate about it.

And so that was kind of my standard going into the workforce was I wasn’t going to settle for something that I didn’t love to do, that I didn’t that didn’t, you know, light me up inside.

And I’ve found my way back to basketball because that seems to be what does it for me.

But I think also realizing that that’s not the peak of your life, that’s not what you’re going to be remembered for.

There’s so much more that you can offer and so many more things that you can do and and it’s just a chapter in your life.

It doesn’t have to be downhill from here.

Like, that’s not the glory days.

It’s not who you are and what people think about you.

Like, you’re you’re a person first.

And basketball is just a chapter in your life and a step that you take moving forward and you can continue to impact, you know, those girls that came to your game and you asked for your autographs and there are other ways to help them and mails to you and make positive change.

There’s so many good things.

And the skills that you learn as a student athlete from your coaches and your teammates are all things that you should apply in your life and will make you successful in whatever you decide to do.

So it’s not it’s not downhill from here.

It’s, you know, that’s not the peak of who you are and just continue to push forward and use what it gave you in the next step of your life.

What was next for you after leaving Saskatchewan? Was it broadcasting? Yes.

Yeah, I went to NAIT, actually.


So I I waitressed for a year after I graduated because I had no idea what I wanted to do.

And I just kind of sat and figured out what I wanted to do, what I was passionate about.

And the one thing I knew was I wanted to promote women’s sports.

I wanted to make it so that girls could dream about, you know, being proud or like have female athletes to look up to and aspire to be like and have role models in the things that they love to do.

And sports broadcasting seemed like a good fit for that because it was I could talk about sports, which is what I knew best, and I could help promote getting women’s sports on TV and broadcasting it to the younger generation.

So applied to NAIT for the broadcasting program and then graduated from there it was a two year program.

So yeah.

How was your experience? I loved it.

It was great.

And it also it again, it’s kind of full circle but it connected me with so many like the broadcasting community in Edmonton and a lot of basketball because I had training in how to be a part of broadcasting and then I had the, the knowledge to, you know, speak about it as well.

So I did a lot of color commentary in the city for I did all of the NAIT games, the basketball games.

I did some I did a Stingers game this this summer.

I did some FIBA, like international competitions, some UofA stuff.

So it connected me to a different side of the basketball community that I wasn’t necessarily connected to and that, you know, it’s been really nice, like such good people.

And also a giant part of growing the game of basketball in Edmonton and in Canada, just in a different facet.

So it was yeah, I loved it.

It was really good.

You mentioned the Edmonton Stingers, which is a professional basketball team in Edmonton, Alberta.

Can you talk about some of the roles you had with that organization? Yeah, so I once the league started up, which was a four years ago now, I knew I wanted to get involved.

I didn’t really know how to, but I was like, I got to get my foot in the door.


I had a broadcasting degree or a diploma, and they were looking for an in-game host.

So I applied.

I had done some hosting for other sports like Oil Kings and some baseball in the city.

I have terrible stage fright when it comes to that stuff.

So it was a oh, god.

So it was a huge challenge, but something that I was like, No, it’ll pay off.

You know, it’ll pay off.

Just do it.

Face your fear, whatever so I hosted a bunch of games.

I was the host for their whole first season then, and after that, I didn’t really want to do it after a year, but they had a bubble season because of COVID.

And then last season because I’d been involved with the team and, you know, did some hosting and was around, did a podcast with them.

So I was able to kind of showcase my knowledge of the game a little bit.

I was asked to be an assistant coach last year, so I was an assistant coach for last season and then didn’t didn’t come back as a coach this year, but still kind of around and did some color commentary for them.

I’m their backup color person for, for the season now.

So I’ve kind of just been around and done a few different things and I knew that if I found a way in that they would, you know, recognize that I, I could help out more than just being, being a host.

And that’s kind of how it worked out.

What are some of your specific jobs as an assistant coach with the professional basketball team? Well, so I was also I am a certified strength and conditioning coach as well.

So guys would come in and lift with me throughout the year.

I did mobility stuff with them before practice or making doing some playas and injury prevention things and get them warmed up scouting, you know, having team meetings, coaches meetings about who we were going to play that weekend, who was traveling, what we thought about guys in practice, just giving our thoughts kind of on the, the general things of the game.

I was on the bench.

So during games, taking stats, talking to guys, assistant coach roles are interesting and being the only female on the bench was, you know, interesting as well.

Another thing to kind of have to maneuver and figure out as well.

Was it a positive experience? Were they welcoming to you.

The players…

I couldn’t have asked for a more welcoming group of guys.

They were so kind and so welcoming and open to listening to what I had to say.

And honestly, I didn’t say much.

It was my first experience in a professional setting, and I knew that I was going to learn a lot.

And so when I, I only said things when I felt like I really had something to say because I didn’t.

I, you know, I’m like, I, some of these guys are my age, you know, like some of them I’ve known since I was 15 years old.

And they’ve been playing all the way through.

And, and I knew that as much as I was an assistant coach, I was there to learn too.

And so I only said things when I really felt like I had something to offer.

Because I also understand that just because I haven’t been playing pro afterwards what I know best is being a teammate.

What I know best is being in a team environment and being a part of a culture that is successful.

And and I’m very confident in what I know about being on a team.

I’ve been a role player.

I’ve been an all star, I’ve been an assistant coach, I’ve been a head coach, I’ve been a strength and conditioning coach.

I’ve been a broadcaster.

I’ve been, you know, every role that you can kind of imagine on a team, I’ve done it and I and I know that.

I understand that.

And so if opportunities came up for me to give my advice in that respect, then I did.

But I tried to make sure that when I had something to say, it was it was good and it was valuable so that I was heard.

But the the players on that roster, you know, I still I’m still in contact with quite a few of them, and they were great.

They were such a good group of guys.

So welcoming, and I’m really grateful to them.

And, you know, some of the assistant coaches I still have good relationships with and talk to quite a bit.

So I’m really grateful for for that for sure.

And you learned a lot, I imagine, that experienced helped you land the head coaching job with NAIT? Definitely yeah.

Which is, you know, it’s it life is funny how things kind of work out.

But yeah, I mean, it was it kind of reintroduced me back into the world of coaching.

I hadn’t coached in a while.

I hadn’t been around the game as much as I’d been used to.

And it was kind of getting me back into it and it’s always fun when you win and, and we won.

So obviously my, you know, I look back and it’s, you know, it’s always fun when you win.

So yeah, it, I started coaching some Junior Pandas after that and got back into coaching girls because of that.

Obviously, being able to put that on my resume doesn’t, doesn’t hurt being a professional assistant coach and a CEBL champion as well.

I also I don’t know this 100%, but I’m fairly certain I’m the first female coach with the CEBL ring.

So that’s, you know, kind of a cool thing to have on my resume as well.

And yeah, it definitely changed the trajectory of my career path for sure.

I’m glad we’re talking to you now as you’re about to go into your first season as a head coach at NAIT, what was the interview process like? So fast? Yeah, so I, I didn’t apply initially.

It opened up and I had a couple of people ask me about it and I was like, oh, I didn’t feel, I didn’t feel qualified.

I didn’t feel.

I just yeah, it wasn’t something that I thought I was really qualified for.

But as the months kind of went on, I had so many people ask me if I had applied that it was a kind of in my head, like, should I have applied? Like, why is everyone asking me if I applied for this job? Like, it’s, you know, it got me thinking.

And so then I ended up applying very last minute.

I got an interview the next day, still was kind of processing how I felt about it because I it was just like, you know, it’s a it’s a big job.

It’s a it’s a big commitment.

It’s a it’s a very large schedule change and life change and and it was a lot.

So I got an interview the next day after the interview.

They’re like…

We interviewed this many people.

We will take no longer than two weeks and we’ll get back to you once we’ve made a decision.

So I was like, OK, so if I didn’t think I was going to get it, but I was like, but if I are in the off chance that I do, this gives me time to process how I feel about it.

You know, some time to kind of sit in my feelings and see where I’m at with you know, taking this on, if that becomes an option for me.

I got a phone call 4 hours later and they offered me the job.

So it was it happened really very quickly and I just asked for, you know, a day to kind of process before I accept it.

I always knew I was going to accept it, but I just needed to, you know, like I said I needed to process.

And I was driving to Saskatoon the next day to coach Junior Pandas.

And I was talking with, you know, one of my best friends who I coached with, Megan Wickstrom, and and I just talked to her a bit about it.

And she was like, what are you doing? Like, call him now and accept this job? Like, what are you waiting for? So I did you know, on the road and called and accepted it.

And it was overwhelming for sure and very nerve wracking.

But in all of the best ways, you know, I love a challenge.

I need a challenge.

I thrive in in those types of situations.

And even though I felt like I didn’t have as much head coaching experience and, you know, all of the things that made me question if I was qualified I look back at all of the things that I’ve been doing over the last, you know, six years, seven years or however long it’s been since I graduated, eight years of whatever it is.

I can’t in 2014.

I’ve been preparing to do this just in ways that I didn’t expect you know, working at the Young Offender Center, doing the color commentary, broadcasting all of these things.

Everywhere I went, basketball followed me as well.

You know, I started a team at the Young Offenders Center.

I did the color commentary for the FIBA Internationals and all of the NAIT games, and I’ve been a part of the game the entire time and learning how to be a leader from very different avenues.

And I think that it’s just created a more well-rounded view on how to lead and patience and things that I might not have gotten if I just stayed, you know, doing the same things that I was like coaching young offenders.

I was one of the best things I could have ever done to to shape me as a leader because it just it gave me a new appreciation for the game and also showed me how insanely blessed, I guess, I am to have gotten the opportunities that I did and what the game gave me.

And just being able to share, you know, the game that I love with kids that have never had anything like that.

And never had a coach and never had basketball shoes or, you know, it just it made me see it from a completely different view.

And also how important having that structure in that team atmosphere is.

And it’s so much bigger than what we do on the floor.

And that was something that I’m very grateful to have experienced because I think it just gave me a very valuable perspective as a coach as to what I’m doing for my players and what my coaches did for me.

What is your day to day like? What are you doing nine to five as we build towards the the start of your first season? It’s summertime is a bit different because you go so hard during the year.

And I mean, I haven’t done it yet, but I’ve done it, you know, I did it for five years.

So I understand the dynamic.

But it’s right now I’m spending all my time trying to build a team I had I think I have for sure, seven players coming back from last year.

So I think there was five girls that graduated and all of them are second years.

So we’re quite young and I have to fill out my roster.

So right now I’m planning my ID camp, I’m sending out emails I’m scouting, trying to, you know, get my finger on the pulse of girls that aren’t going back to college or university girls that, you know, it didn’t work out.

And their schooling and trying to find those girls to fill the holes in my roster for us to be successful.

So that’s kind of what I’m doing right now.

We also run camps in the summer so planning out our our camp in July.

We have a camp in August, you know, hiring coaches, planning that out, making sure that everyone’s kind of on the same page and then just figuring out all the logistics that I, you know, I don’t know very well yet, like scholarships and commitment letters and getting girls into school and all of the things that, you know, I didn’t see that are kind of behind the scenes hiring assistant coaches, planning preseason budget things, you know, stuff that I wasn’t aware of that my coach did that, you know, as a player you don’t see.

So I’m figuring all of that out and getting to know my my coworkers, which is a super exciting thing for me too.

Like the that’s one of the things I’m actually really looking forward to is having coworkers that are that understand me, that I understand.

You know, every other job that I’ve had, I’ve had acquaintances and they’re wonderful people to work with.

But I felt like, you know, they weren’t necessarily good friends.

And I feel like the people that I’m going to be working with at NAIT – because we’re all young and kind of went through the same things like they all played university or college sport.

They’re all back into coaching and they understand the grind.

They understand why we do it.

And they’re all about my age for the most part.

So that part’s super exciting for me as well.

I’ll just be surrounded by my peers that are like minded and, you know, having that support system as well.

And so that’s a part of it.

And just trying to get my office set up, I’ve, I’ve got to figure that out and create a home for myself and meeting with all of my returning players.

And one of the big things for me and it was a big difference from college, university that I found was summertime is when you put in the work as an athlete, you you really hit the gym hard and you lift and you’re getting into the gym to shoot.

You’re going for runs.

You’re putting in all of the things that you can’t really do during the season.

You lift during the year, but you’re so tired from practice and you play all the time.

So that’s always tapered to what your schedule is like.

Whereas in the summertime you have a bit more freedom and flexibility, not only mentally but physically too, to really push.

So trying to pass that along to my girls that, you know, you need to be putting in the work like the summertime.

You’ve had your month rest.

You know, I wasn’t hired yet and you got a bit of a break and now it’s time to start putting in the work because come September, I don’t want us to be starting from ground zero.

You need to have a good foundation coming in not only because that’s what the best teams and best programs do in the country at all levels, but also because we are all second years and we’re short.

And if we’re going to be short and young, we’re going to be strong and fit again.

It’s controlling the things that you can control, right? I can only build my roster.

As you know, I have a short amount of time to do so, but I can we can control all of the deposits that we put into the team bank account all summer long.

And that’s lifting and pushing yourself and, and making sure you’re putting in the work before we actually start in September, because they’re going to learn quick that if they didn’t put the work in, it’s going to show because my, my practices will you’ll get exposed.

I’m going to know who put the work in immediately.

And that’s how it was at university you know, you showed up and if you weren’t fit, you didn’t fit in because everyone else was already, you know, the strongest they’ve been up to that point.

So that’s that’s a big part of it, too, is just reaching out to my players.

And to have you figured out a routine, how are your lifts going? Are you pushing yourselves? Are you keeping track? Are you sleeping well? Are you you know, are you in touch with your teammates? Are you getting touches on the ball like just, you know, to touching base with them? Also being a support system for them because it’s hard, especially if you’re not in Edmonton, which most of my girls aren’t, it’s a lot easier to come to the gym when all your teammates are there.

And it’s easier to lift when it’s a group.

And it’s a lot harder to do that on your own.

So also letting them know, like, be honest with me, are you struggling? Why are you struggling? Let me help you.

You know, it’s don’t lie to me and tell me you’re getting into the gym because that’s not good for anybody.

If you’re not getting in there, tell me and we’ll work on it.

We’ll figure out what the block is and fix it before you come in September.

And I have to whoop.

Yeah, you know, that’s, that’s figure it out in June and July rather than in September when you have me on your ass and you have school coming down on you hard and everything goes crazy.

Like, let’s figure out a good routine and get you into the gym consistently so that you get to a point where you actually like it, you know? And that takes a long time for me.

That took me years.

So it’s, it’s not an easy thing to do, but it’s not going to get any easier come September.

So it’s something that, you know, I’m also trying to to really let my girls know that it’s important.

I think you answered my question about what you love about coaching, but can you summarize it? I love what I’m what I’m able to do for the confidence of of the girls that I coach having that relationship where we can have fun is I love to joke around, I love to tease them and bug them.

And, you know, I love our practices to be lighthearted, but also understanding that there’s a time and place for, you know, goofing around and having fun.

But we’re also here to work.

I’m also here to teach you what my coaches taught me and it’s not just it’s the intangible things and it’s controlling what you can control and understanding that if you do control the things you can, that you will find success in whatever it is that you do.

And I think about how amazing the coaches that I had growing up and I had amazing male coaches, too, you know, like my my dad was my coach for a long time.

Brent Anderson was my high school coach, and he was an absolutely wonderful human being and role model for me.

And Scott Edwards, who’s the UofA coach, was my provincial team coach.

And I had a plethora of of other male coaches, but I didn’t realize how lucky I was to have the female coaches that I did because it was a bit of a rarity to have so many.

And I had all throughout my career, I had very strong women that coached me, and they just give you something as a female that I, I needed and felt passionate about passing on to girls afterwards, like watching Lisa Tumidas walk around in practice and how she speaks in public and how she speaks to her team and just the respect that she demands by being there.

You know, it just that’s what I want to be like.

I want to I want to impact the room the way that she does.

And and, you know, Leann, who was my Augustana coach, was so passionate and fiery about what she loved and wanting to to make you better.

And she was hard and tough on you, but it pays off if you buy in and you just understand what they’re trying to do for you.

And I just I had so many amazing female coaches, and I’m so grateful for what they taught me about being a leader and and passing on what the game has taught them.

And of course, I had coaches tell you that when you’re younger, like you should be a coach when you’re done because you should give back to the game that gave you so much it’s like I am like basketball or whatever.

And I look back now and like, they’re right there.

They’re so right.

And I just I there’s so many things that are out of my control, in the way that, you know, our lives are set up and the way that we’re supposed to do things.

And, and the best way that I think that we could balance that out is to have females at tables where conversations are being had.

And there needs to be a better balance.

And we need more female leaders to impact the decisions that are being made for the betterment of everyone.

And the best way for me to be a part of making that change is to create strong, confident leaders.

And the best way I know how to do that is through sport.

And basketball was my sport of choice, and it’s what I know best.

And of course, I want to teach them the game and the skills, and I love to win and I need that outlet of competition because that’s just, you know, who I am to my core.

But I also understand that it’s not just the game.

It’s it’s creating strong, confident women that when they leave, my program will be successful and confident and make positive changes for everyone around us.

And I think that’s what makes me so passionate about it is is, you know, we women need to be a part of that change because they were just not involved enough.

And there’s something that we offer that, you know, nobody else does.

And there needs to be more of a balance.

And I want to be a part of making that change.

What do you think makes a great coach.

Understanding what I mean? I think this answer will change for me a million times as I get more experience I think right now it’s it’s connecting with your players and understanding what they need from you to be the most confident version of themselves.

Confidence is massive and it is the biggest player when it comes to, you know, being able to play the game.

Because if you’re always second guessing yourself, and and struggling with your confidence, your game is going to struggle.

And the best way to be confident is to be prepared.

And so every player is different and they react and interact with different styles of coaching differently.

And so understanding what they need from me to bring that out in them is not always going to be their friend and they’re not always going to like me.

But if they understand that what I’m trying to do is for their best interest to make them the best player, the most confident player and the best teammate and the best person, and they really trust that that’s what I’m trying to do.

Then they’ll still listen, even if they don’t like me at that time.

And that’s something that’s a tough thing to learn too, because you come from high school into college and everyone is the all star, right? And so accepting a role of being on the bench and accepting a role of not playing the minutes that you’re used to is a very grown up thing to have to do.

And it’s not easy.

But if you have that open communication with your coach and it’s like, this is your role right now, but if you do this role to the best of your ability and you show me that I can trust you to do that role, I’ll give you more responsibility.

And if you do that again, then I’ll give you more responsibility and it grows and it and it, it, it improves throughout the years.

But you have to have trust that that’s what they’re doing.

And it’s not that you’re not being seen or being appreciated.

It’s just you’re not quite ready.

Let me get you ready right.

And so there has to be that trust that I’m doing what I can for you, not for me.

Like, of course I want to win, but I want to build the most confident girls that have buy in and wins will be a symptom of that in my experience.

What is the best advice you can give a person pursuing a career as a head coach? Learn from everyone that you come across, whether you agree with them or not.

You know, there’s going to be a lot of people that you’re surrounded by that see the game differently or have different philosophies.

But just because you disagree doesn’t mean that you can’t learn about yourself, about the game.

About what you like, about what you dislike, and give yourself the opportunity to be around as many different types of leaders as you can in the game and outside of the game too.

understand that your experience is what’s going to teach you the best and trust that your it’s great to take advice and it’s valuable and it’s a necessity.

But you also need to figure out what your style is and how you interact, because if you try to adapt a style that isn’t natural to you, and this is just leaders in general, it’s forced and it’s not something that is received well by the people that you’re trying to lead.

You need to you need to walk the walk and you need to have faith in what you’re doing.

And if you’re doing it for the right reasons, people will will buy in and figure out what your style is, what comes natural to you, what your strengths are, lean into your strengths, improve your weaknesses.

But every coach is different, and how you interact with people is different.

And you you can’t force something that’s not there because people pick up on that.

You need to be as genuine and as true to who you are as you can be and do it with the best intentions.

Well, Kyra, I wish you all the best in your first year coaching at NAIT.

Maybe we should book a second interview after your first year to see how it went.

Yeah, it might be a very different interview.

Your hair might become a little gray, right? I’m real chipper right now.

But after after my first year, it might not be the same.

So we’ll see.

Well, thanks for joining us today.


Thank you so much for having me.

It was it was really cool to go through that.

I appreciate it.

Thank you for tuning in to The Job Talk podcast.

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