Hilary Stellingwerf is used to achieving goals at the highest level possible. The two-time Olympian and winner of eight medals at the Canadian National Championships has constantly excelled at every level of competition she has found herself in.
Now in her second year as an assistant coach with the University of Victoria Vikes cross country and track program, Stellingwerff has the opportunity to excel once again thanks in part to being selected to the Coaching Association of Canada’s (CAC) Female Coach Mentorship program.
“For me, this is an amazing opportunity to work with and be mentored by experienced national and international level coaches such as our head coach Brent Fougner at UVic and Heather Hennigar, head coach at the Athletics Canada Hub,” said Stellingwerff.
The Female Coach Mentorship program awards grant money to female coaches who are in a position of being mentored as an assistant coach in a university program.
“This program is a great opportunity for us to have a structured mentorship program between Brent and I, so that he can instill some of his knowledge and experience in me,” said Stellingwerff. “A chance to work with the Athletics Canada hub is huge to not only bridge the gap between our athletes and theirs but to also learn from their support team as well. It just puts some structure behind the coaching education and gets me started on my education path towards high performance coaching.”
A two-year pilot program, Stellingwerff’s mentorship is unique in that it is being run with the CAC, UVic, as well as Athletics Canada so that Stellingwerff will have the opportunity to not only impact athletes at UVic but also to work with Athletics Canada Next Gen athletes through the western hub of the Canadian Sports Institute.
“We want to help bridge the gap between university level and high performance athletes through the Next Gen program,” said Stellingwerff. “My goal is to help as many UVic athletes make national teams and represent Canada at the international level as possible, while also creating a positive academic and athletic experience to achieve their short term and long term goals.”
Stellingwerff, an Olympian in both 2012 and 2016, as well as a member of ten Canadian National teams says that the program is already paying dividends in her coaching education.
“It gives us more of a format to follow and support with certain things. We completed a leadership review that allowed me to get some feedback from my coaching peers and also some of the athletes,” said Stellingwerff. “Things have already been really useful and this program gives us the impetus to do these things that don’t always get done as we get busy with our season, so it’s nice to have that structure.”
So far in 2017-18, Stellingwerff has overseen a number of outstanding Vikes achievements.
The women’s cross country team claimed the Canada West banner on home soil and finished fourth overall in the nation at the U SPORTS Cross Country Championships, good enough for the best finish by the team since 2012.
On the track, the Vikes recorded eight medals at the Canada West Championships and then won two more at the U SPORTS Track Championships in 2018.