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Don’t rush your growth or you might miss something important you were supposed to learn.

Jessica Cunha

Expansion Coordinator

Volt Hockey

× The interview with Jessica Cunha 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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Tell us about your role as the Expansion Coordinator of the Volt Hockey.

As the VOLT Hockey Expansion Coordinator, my job is to expand the sport to other communities in Ontario and support the expansion of the program in other provinces across Canada as well. I am also in charge of recruiting players to the Variety Ontario team, maintaining inventory and equipment, attending special events promoting the sport, planning trial session and planning games and tournaments for the teams.

What does a typical day look like for you?

There is no typical day per-se, with the different things I have to do, but oftentimes it encompasses communicating with different organizations about what VOLT Hockey is and planning/ attending trial sessions. When I’m not doing those, I’m working on creating the VOLT Hockey manual and coaching manual and working alongside my coworkers on planning and executing a strategic development plan to ensure that we are on the correct path to expand the program.

3Take us through the realization that a career in sport was right for you.

I was the person who loved playing sports; that is, figure skating, soccer, baseball, hockey and occasionally volleyball and basketball. Anything that had me moving essentially. I also really enjoyed science though and tried to figure out how to combine the two passions.

It wasn’t until my final year of studying Kinesiology that I knew I wanted to pursue a path in sport. My Portuguese Studies Professor at York University, Professor Dodman, was really the one who encouraged me to apply to Humber College for their Sports Management program.

From there, I received all kinds of experiences. I travelled to Florida and visited IMG Academy, and went to Arviat, Nunavut to bring the sport to the local youth, then shortly afterwards I started my internship with the Invictus Games Toronto 2017. The last two experiences just showed me how sport can impact the health and well-being of individuals and I loved that feeling. I wanted more of it.

After the Games, I worked for the Canadian Women’s Hockey League and then found myself at Variety Ontario working two programs, the VOLT Hockey program and the Rehabilitation to Community program and I’ve been loving both.
What has always stuck by me however, the last 12 years, has been my coaching.

I coach power skating (for hockey players) and figure skating and I’ve learned the most about myself as a leader in my experiences. It’s one thing to be an athlete, but it’s another to coach them. They depend on you to not only teach them the techniques, but to also be there to calm their minds, understand their troubles, and be their support when they’re just having a rough day/week/year. They don’t care about the experience you have as a coach; they care about you being there for them.

Sport is used as a positive outlet, and for many, to heal from their problems. It’s this experience that I use to continuously humble me as I progress in my career, and it’s these lessons that I try to take and share in all the jobs I have done so far.

4What are three of your greatest accomplishments thus far?

  1. Graduating university: I struggled in my second- and third-year, juggling 2 jobs and full-time school. But I managed to change some of my failing or almost failing grades to a B+/A the following years.
  2. First competition as a coach: A massive milestone for me. I was more anxious than my skaters competing but learned how to set that aside and be present for them to calm their nerves.
  3. Running a VOLT Hockey March Break Camp: I was still very new to the position, but I managed to use my power skating drills to teach the participants how to play VOLT Hockey. I had two amazing placement students with me too who helped me, and by the end of the week, all of the kids were independently using the chairs.

5What advice would you give individuals aspiring to get started in the sport industry?

“Reach out to different people in the industry”
There are so many different roles that you may not have realized are out there and there’s only one way of finding out what that role entails. Yes, Google is a great search engine that gives you an idea, but a real person acting in that role can tell you so much more about what they do and what experience is necessary to get there. You’d be amazed at some of the fun jobs that few are aware of out there.

“Don’t rush the process”
I’m notorious for doing this at times. You start to think about your age in relation to where you thought you would be by this time. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way and neither does experience. Don’t rush your growth or you might miss something important you were supposed to learn.

“Don’t be afraid to shadow or volunteer”
Shadowing or volunteering gives you a great perspective of what the day to day of the job may look like. If you’re not having a great time during this process, it may help you realize that maybe this isn’t the job, or company, for you.

6What is one of the biggest challenges you face in the position you are in?

Money to purchase the chairs and finding communities that are able to store the chairs and start a team of their own. It’s still a brand-new sport so there’s a lot of explaining and teaching community leaders about the product.

7What is one quote you follow, can relate to or live by, and why?

“If you fall down, pretend like you meant to do it, get up and keep going”

This is a quote I tell all of my skaters when they’re practising their solos or performing them in competition. Essentially, I want them to learn to not dwell on the negative because there are many more opportunities that can be positive if they reset their focus. This is something I hope they take with them in their everyday lives.

Hayley Michie Hayley's Final Thoughts

After hearing Jessica's career path to becoming the Expansion Coordinator for VOLT Hockey, I was eager to learn more about how she got to where she is today. She is extremely passionate about spreading the game of VOLT Hockey across communities in Ontario, which I find amazing! As she continues to grow as a sports industry professional, Jessica mentioned not 'rushing the process'. We all want to grow as professionals but we are often impatient. Jessica's comment reminded me to listen, take in all the knowledge I can absorb and most importantly, enjoy the career path I have chosen and adore so much. I'm sure Jessica would agree when I say our time is limited so soak everything in while you can!

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