Interview and Photo by Jason Setnyk
Cornwall, Ontario – Kayla Lascelle, a prominent figure in local girls’ hockey, has been making significant strides since joining the staff of the Ontario Hockey Academy in 2015. Her credentials speak volumes as a former player at the renowned private hockey school and NCAA Division III champion with Norwich University. As a girls’ hockey coach and assistant administrator for both academics and girls’ hockey, Kayla inspires and empowers young athletes on and off the ice. Her unwavering commitment to academic achievement complements her coaching prowess, shaping the future of girls’ hockey and fostering a culture of excellence.
Five Questions with The Seeker
1 – How do you see the future of women’s hockey evolving at the local and international levels?
“The evolution of women’s hockey has been enormous in the last 10-15 years. In the Premier Hockey Federation (PHF), the salary cap for the 2023-24 season has been raised to $1.5 million USD. Daryl Watts signed a two-year contract with the Toronto Six for USD 150,000 on the season, making her the highest-paid player in history (excluding those with endorsement deals). We are making history for women’s hockey, and by we, I mean everyone involved at all levels of play. One major thing that I think will be adapted in the next 5-10 years is that female hockey will finally have a junior league to play before going to university, just as the boys do. This will increase the longevity of players playing and give more time for players to develop.”
2 – How do you coach, develop, and mentor young players?
“Coaching hockey, or any sport for that matter, is a continuously changing and challenging. As a coach, we are expected to professionally develop ourselves to ensure we educate players to the best of our abilities. Each year, each team and group of young individuals change, and as coaches, we should be learning and growing from the group we have. They all require something different, whether it be mental, physical, or communicative; the list can go on. I think the main focus for coaches to help develop and mentor is to assess the type of players and have meetings with families at the start of each season to understand and know how to serve their daughter, in my case, the best. Then coaches can put in a plan of action to succeed relationship-wise with their players and on-ice development for the goals they want to achieve.”
3 – How do you balance the responsibilities of coaching with the administrative duties of your role?
“Balancing multiple responsibilities is challenging. Working for OHA, you are immersed in your player’s lives every day through coaching, school, living, socially etc., as most students live so far away. So there is more than just balancing the responsibilities of coach and my administrative duties.”
4 – How do you keep your team motivated and focused during a long season?
“Having worked for OHA for the past 8-9 years, you get to know the areas and points of the year where there is a lag in motivation. During these areas where the players are either struggling with being homesick, lacking motivation, tiredness, etc., we try to increase team bonding, finding ways to have the players gel and laugh. I also find taking time to give the players attention and asking questions about school and life to have them understand us coaches care. Again, this is another challenging part of our job here at OHA since we are with our students daily. Learning and accepting change is important to help our students make it through a long season.”
5 – Can you tell us about a particularly memorable moment or game in your coaching career?
“There is not one most memorable moment, but I am personally most proud of seeing our students succeed post-OHA. This doesn’t only mean in hockey but in every aspect of life. We take pride in our tight friendship bonds that last many years after their time at OHA. I graduated from OHA in 2009, and I still visit friends and talk to them every day from our short time together at OHA. I want that experience for all of our past, current and future athletes.”
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