Former Okanagan Laker star chosen for Canada's first-ever female coach mentor program

Jackie Wong, a former four-year starter for the Okanagan Lakers Women’s Volleyball team, is one of 10 students selected for the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association’s (CCAA) first-ever Female Coach Mentor Program. Steve Manuel, coach of the Okanagan Lakers, has been selected to mentor Wong.

The CCAA Female Coach Mentor Program was launched in October to identify and nurture female graduating student-athletes who demonstrate the desired skills for coaching by providing them with the opportunity to share the coaching experience in CCAA National Championship sports.

Wong, finishing a Bachelor of Arts degree at UBC Okanagan this year, was a two-time Provincial All-Star, Provincial Championship Tournament MVP and Okanagan University College Female Athlete of the Year. Through the Female Coach Mentor Program, she will assist Coach Manuel with the women’s volleyball team and have access to workshops and other professional development resources.

“This is going to be a great opportunity to be in a setting I can learn from him — and I can implement that in my coaching,” says Wong. “It’s the first step in coaching that a lot of people don’t get.”

Wong aspires to be a head coach at a post-secondary institution some day and has already coached at a variety of levels, including the Okanagan 15 & Under B.C. Summer Games boys’ team and the 17 & Under Beach Volleyball B.C. Summer Games team.

"As a student-athlete, Jackie was an inspiration to her teammates,” says Rob Johnson, Director of Athletics and Recreation at UBC Okanagan. “Even though she is blessed with a large dose of athletic talent she consistently put in extra hours of training as she strived to reach her considerable potential. We were very lucky to have Jackie play for us for four years and now are indeed fortunate to have her give back to the sport she loves by becoming an assistant coach.”

Manuel is a certified Level III coach and a Level I and II course conductor, with four years’ CCAA coaching experience. Mentorship is not a new concept for him — he considers it a key role in developing new and future coaches, and it’s among his many duties as the Okanagan Regional Coach with Volleyball B.C.

“The entire volleyball community in the Okanagan recognizes how fortunate we are that Steve has chosen to live and coach in this area,” says Johnson. “I am very pleased that the CCAA has assisted us in Jackie's development -- our student-athletes and many more in the future will benefit greatly from this program."

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