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University of Alberta Golden Bears female coach forging path

Click to play video: 'University of Alberta Golden Bears hockey coach is one of a kind'
University of Alberta Golden Bears hockey coach is one of a kind
WATCH ABOVE: The Alberta Golden Bears hockey program is the most successful in U Sports history. The team aims to capture another conference and national championship with the help of an assistant coach who is a trailblazer. Slav Kornik has the story – Feb 17, 2022

The University of Alberta Golden Bears is the most successful program in U Sports men’s hockey.

The Bears have won 16 national championships and 28 Canada West titles.

As the team looks to add more banners to Clare Drake Arena this season, they are doing it with a different-looking coaching staff.

Rachel Wiebe is in her first season with the program and is the first female coach in its storied history.

“It’s definitely an honour to be a part of it but for me it’s about the coaching and being able to develop my game as a coach, but then to be able to contribute to our players as well, help contribute to their game and develop their game and support them,” Wiebe said.

READ MORE: First female coach making waves in WHL

Wiebe grew up playing hockey in and around Grande Prairie, Alta. Several concussions forced her to stop playing as a teenager. A few people who understood Wiebe’s passion for hockey encouraged her to get involved in coaching.

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She took the advice and began coaching camps and teams in Grande Prairie.

When she transferred to the U of A to pursue her conservation biology degree, she joined the Pandas coaching staff. Golden Bears head coach Ian Herbers was so impressed with Wiebe he asked the young coach to join his staff for the 2021-22 season.

“(We) had great conversations. (She’s) very passionate about hockey, very passionate about the Golden Bears program,” Herbers said. “I thought she had a great thinking process about the game.”

READ MORE: University of Alberta Golden Bears bring in Texan standout with Canadian roots

Several months into the season, Wiebe has become a valuable member of the staff.

“They’ve been great. They’ve been incredibly supportive, they’ve been respectful. The players are very receptive to feedback if I give them any feedback on the ice,” Wiebe said.

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“It’s nice to see the game changing with including different people on different teams and everything,” Golden Bears forward Matt Fonteyne said. “But Rachel has been awesome for us and we’re really fortunate to have her.”

READ MORE: Alumni money restores University of Alberta hockey teams for next season

Wiebe does not regard herself as a trailblazer. She simply loves coaching and hockey, and she is thankful for the chance to be part of the Golden Bears program.

“I just show up to the rink focused on what we have to get done that day and finish that day. The game is that weekend and the preparation for that,” she said. “I don’t think anything else other than that. It’s just about the love of the game for me and coaching.”

She is not sure where her coaching career will lead, but Wiebe is not looking to far down the road. For now, she is happy helping the Golden Bears attempt to capture another conference and national championship.

Click to play video: 'New pack of Alberta Golden Bears prepare for upcoming season'
New pack of Alberta Golden Bears prepare for upcoming season

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