A teacher by day and assistant coach by night, the 27-year-old from Winnipeg has already earned a U Sports national bronze medal and will be behind the bench for the 2024 national championship tournament hosted by the Huskies in 2024.
It was over the summer, however, that she received a call from another staple of the Saskatoon hockey scene.
“Honestly it was the last phone call I was expecting to get,” said Bumstead.
On the other line of that call was Saskatoon Blades head coach Brennan Sonne, inquiring about the possibility of her joining the WHL organization.
It was an opportunity to which Bumstead said it was hard to say no.
“It’s cool, it’s exciting and it’s humbling,” said Bumstead. “But it also just makes me want to make sure that I’m ready for it and I’m going to do a sufficient job.”
On Tuesday, the Blades formally announced the hiring of Bumstead as the team’s new performance coach for the 2023-24 WHL season.
She now adds major junior hockey to her growing resume.
“She came highly recommended from an NHL coach,” said Sonne. “We reached out to her, chatted with her. I was really impressed, honestly.”
A graduate of the NHL Coaches Association’s Female Mentorship Program, Bumstead will assist Blades coaches in a variety of roles including running practice, providing in-game and post-game analysis and giving feedback to players, all while continuing on in her current coaching role with the Huskies.
“Incredibly hard-working, a talented communicator,” said Sonne. “She’s really good at communicating with players and the rest of the staff, she’s a very good hockey mind as well. So we’re excited we can steal her when we can.”
It’s a historic hire for the Blades organization, as Bumstead becomes the first woman to ever join the team’s coaching staff in 59 years as a franchise.
However, it’s an opportunity she feels has little to do with gender.
“It never was, ‘This is Christine and she’s the first female,'” said Bumstead. “It was, ‘This is Christine and she’s a part of our staff.’ I felt welcomed because of what I bring as a coach and who I am as a person, more than checking a box.”
Bumstead will also earn some experience this fall coaching Team Manitoba at the 2023 National Women’s U18 Hockey Championship in Dawson Creek, B.C.
While proud of the history-making distinction, Bumstead is confident her work shown on the ice will be the true story as she hopes to now make an impact at the WHL level.
“I think long-term, the longevity of it is who you are,” said Bumstead. “Not what you are.”
The Blades kick off their 2023-24 WHL season on Saturday in Regina, while the Huskies women’s hockey team will host the Manitoba Bisons for their season opener on Sept. 29.