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Coach education creates an opportunity to have such a positive impact on so many different people, and when people are excited to get involved it makes my role so worth it.

Danielle Emmons

Coach Education & Special Projects Coordinator

Canada Basketball

× The interview with Danielle Emmons was conducted via a typed conversation. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read while maintaining the voice of the interview.

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1Tell us about your role as Coach Education & Special Projects Coordinator at Canada Basketball. What does a typical day look like for you?

One of the best parts of my job is that every day is a little different.

On the Coach Education side of things, most of my work involves projects with the National Coach Certification Program (NCCP), and working with our provincial and territorial sport organizations (PSOs) to make sure they have the support they need to deliver programming to coaches.

This could mean identifying candidates to act as course facilitators, assisting with tracking coach certification, as well as hosting our own coach education workshops across the country.

It also includes updating content and curriculum to ensure coaches are receiving the most up-to-date sport information.

Recently a lot of my NCCP work has focused on bringing courses online and how we can transition to more of a blended learning environment.

The special projects I work on vary from areas such as:

  • Safe Sport
  • Gender and Racial Equity
  • Concussion
  • Health & Safety

In the same day, I might have a conference call with a technical director from a PSO, a health and safety meeting, time set aside to review course content updates, a team meeting with the rest of our Domestic Development staff, a gender equity project workshop and time dedicated to providing customer service to coaches from across the country.

2You seem to have a passion for the leadership aspect of sport with your past and current experiences in the industry. Tell us a little bit about why coach education is important to you and the impact it has on individual and group development in sport.

Coach education is such a foundational component of the sport, at both the grassroots and high-performance levels.

Without coaches, we could not have a fully functioning sport system, and we would not be able to teach fundamental movement and sport skills to our children.

Whether it’s a guardian teaching their child to ride a bike or a basketball coach at the club level almost everyone will have some experience in a coaching role.

In sport we base our coach education on Long Term Development so we know we’re delivering developmentally appropriate activities to our athletes.

As a coach, it is your job to provide an environment that is safe, fun, and challenging enough so that participants can learn, experience success, and want to keep getting better at what they are doing.

Our system also sets a standard of delivery so you know coaches across the country are learning the same things, and are being held to the same standards of conduct and ethics.

Coach education creates an opportunity to have such a positive impact on so many different people, and when people are excited to get involved it makes my role so worth it.

3You helped develop a coach mentorship program for female coaches in Ontario. In your current role, how do you find different ways to incorporate inclusive leadership across educational programs and projects?

This is such a relevant topic in sport in today’s society. There’s plenty of data available telling us that women are an underrepresented group in sport – whether it’s in coaching, officiating, participation, or the workplace.

We know women face specific barriers that are unique to them, and it’s important when developing new programs, whether they are specifically for women or not, to consider these barriers.

A big part of creating programs is understanding what the group actually needs – this might mean holding focus groups, or simply contacting organizations who work with a specific population who have a better idea of what might work for the group.

It might mean making accommodations for certain participants to be involved, for example allowing a female coach to bring her young child to training camp.

At the organizational level, it’s important for leaders to demonstrate that inclusive and equitable leadership is important to them and to the organization.

This means providing opportunities for women in the workplace to succeed, to take on new roles, and even to engage in professional development opportunities for continuous improvement and learning.

For me specifically, it means talking to my PSOs to find out what works and what doesn’t in their province. It means designating funding for female-specific events and programs, and it means collecting and analyzing feedback on what is and isn’t working for a specific group

4What do you think makes a good leader when managing a new project?

I think you’ve got to be someone who knows how to take charge to oversee a project, while at the same time supporting and empowering your teammates with whom you are working.

You’ve got to be able to identify who has the skills and knowledge you need and be able to ask for help when you don’t have all the answers yourself.

In sport, a lot of the work we do is collaborative and in teams, and what I really appreciate in a leader is someone who acknowledges that I have something to bring to the table, and who can support me in areas where I may not be as strong.

As a leader, I think it’s also important to be able to challenge yourself and your team mates to take on new tasks, push yourself to the next level, and have the drive to be a lifelong learner.

In my role, I have learned that everyone has something to teach me – my boss, my CEO, my intern – that will help me be better on my next project. A good leader knows they don’t have all the answers and they know how to build a team that gets them there.

5While executing special projects, how have you been able to manage the stress of meeting deadlines? What tips do you have to stay organized.

Deadlines, especially for big projects, can be stressful for everyone. What I have found to be effective is to create a timeline or project plan to break down the larger project into smaller components, and then setting deadlines for each of those.

This way you have progress trackers along the way to keep you running on schedule, and you can slowly chip away at the various pieces.

Rarely in sport does anyone have one single project on their plate, so I am constantly juggling multiple deadlines, some of which are hard, while others are more flexible.

It’s also helpful to identify which sort of deadline you are working with – is it a project that absolutely needs to be completed by a certain date or is there room for flexibility if the work is not done in its entirety.

This also helps to identify what you can commit your time to.

Finally, I would say don’t be afraid to ask for help! If there’s part of a project you need help with in order to meet your deadline find a colleague or someone who can help you out.

They’ll bring fresh ideas and perspectives to the table that will help enhance your work.

Emma Greer Emma's Final Thoughts

A good coach can make all the difference in an athlete's development. Sport not only teaches athletic skills but also valuable life skills. Danielle Emmons provides coaches with the knowledge to be able to influence their athlete's player and personal development. She helps provide a safe, equal, and fun environment for athletes in both aspects of her role. Through her projects, she's able to identify different ways to break down racial and gender barriers so that everyone receives a top-quality basketball experience. In sport, it's important to be able to multi-task and stay organized. Danielle has some great tips on how to succeed in project management and be an empowering leader! 

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