While many spend their weekends relaxing, Madeline Humbert is hard at work.
The former University of Saskatchewan Huskies basketball player teaches high school during the week and devotes her spare time to coaching. A recent Saturday saw Humbert working with athletes in the NxtUp basketball program, helping them take their game to the next level.
“I really enjoyed playing basketball growing up but I also loved the opportunity to give back to the sport that gave me so much and it was a great way to get involved in my community,” she explained.
Humbert’s coaching roots run deep. Her father and two sisters have all spent time patrolling the sidelines and it was at her father’s youth basketball camps where Humbert made her first foray into the coaching realm.
“I just loved how passionate he was. Every single practice he brought such energy and he really wanted to bring out the best in everyone,” she said.
The experience at those camps established a foundation that Humbert further built on during her five years at USask, where she worked with the Junior Huskies program while playing for longtime Huskies bench boss and senior women’s national team coach Lisa Thomaidis.
Being coached by Thomaidis provided an opportunity for Humbert to grow as a player but also served as a master class in the finer points of coaching.
“That was something that Lisa Thomaidis did a really good job of in my university career, was (she) always tried to make us think critically and think kind of like coaches,” Humbert said.
Over the years Thomaidis has seen many of her former players go on to become coaches and she saw that potential in Humbert as well.
“She has such a positive mentality and outlook and at her core she just wants to help (players) and she just wants to help them be better and so you can certainly see how she will be a great coach,” she said.
Others have recognized Humbert’s potential, too. She was recently accepted to a Canada Games apprenticeship program aimed at getting more women involved in coaching and providing them with a chance to develop their skills at elite-level events.
Humbert will be an apprentice coach with Team Saskatchewan at the next Canada Summer Games, which were initially scheduled for this year but have since been postponed until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
She says playing for the Huskies highlighted the value of women in coaching roles and considers Thomaidis to be one of her biggest mentors along with her father.
“That is unbelievable for a bunch of university-level females to see that and know that you can be that strong female leader as well and really putting the emphasis on (the need for) more females in leadership positions and more females coaching,” Humbert said.
Read more: Shaping Saskatchewan — Lisa Thomaidis
Thomaidis says it’s important that women pursue their coaching dreams.
“We want young women to be coached by women. I’d love for more young boys to be coached by women just to see what female leadership looks like,” she said.
In some ways, Humbert’s coaching journey is only just beginning, and she still has much to learn but thanks to the lessons she’s already received she’s setting that example for players like those in the NxtUp program.
While her full-time career is in the classroom, she hopes to continue coaching for years to come.
“Coaching is something that I love, it gives me energy…moving forward I hope that I get to always coach at both the elite level and the high school level, but also in camps and getting that grassroots development is something that I really want to keep continuing to do.”