Currently in her third season with the CWHL’s Toronto Furies, Alyssa Baldin has emerged as a key figure in their offensive attack. Scoring the game winning goal in a 2-0 win against the Boston Blades on October 17, she would also supply a pair of two-point performances in back-to-back games against archrival Brampton. In addition to her solid efforts with the blue and white, Baldin has also balanced a promising coaching career.
Baldin’s coaching endeavors are a reflection of one of her most admirable qualities; strong leadership. A former captain at both the NCAA (with Wayne State) and Canadian Interuniversity Sport (Windsor) levels, she looks to instill values of teamwork and sportsmanship in her coaching roles.
In addition to coaching with the prestigious Oakville Hornets organization, celebrating their 20th Anniversary, Baldin has also taken on a similar role at the prep school level this season, with Oakville’s Appleby College. With career aspirations to become an educator one day, the chance to coach and share her acumen with younger players has developed into a labor of love.
“I have been interested in coaching for a while. It started while volunteering with younger teams. I then began working for various hockey camps and hockey training facilities.
Through those experiences as well as my aspiration to be a teacher, I found my passion for coaching. I have always been inspired by the coaches I have had during my hockey career and wanted to be that role model for younger hockey players as I became older and more experienced.”
Last season, Baldin served as an assistant coach with the Hornets’ teams at both the Peewee A and Atom A levels. Prior to that, she displayed a strong entrepreneurial spirit by launching her own power skating program run, which she still runs.
This season, Baldin has earned the opportunity to take on a head coaching role in the Hornets organization, proudly leading the Peewee AA program. The results have spoken for themselves as Baldin has led the club to an impressive 15-5-1 mark, complemented by a tournament victory as Stoney Creek champions.
Starting the season at 5-1-0, the strong run for Baldin’s Midget AA Hornets included a season opening 7-3 win against the London Devilettes. From Sept 25 to October 16, the club enjoyed a sparkling nine-game win streak, highlighted by five shutout wins and a convincing 10-1 margin of victory against North Bay.
While Baldin’s presence and experience as a Clarkson Cup champion with the Furies makes her an exceptional role model and mentor among younger players, she also finds inspiration in the players that she coaches. Their stories and ambitions are a source of tremendous encouragement, motivating Baldin to be a positive influence in helping to shape their goals and dreams.
“I enjoy knowing that I can make a difference in a young player’s life. I have met a lot of incredible young hockey players who I have not only had the pleasure to coach, but I have been inspired by their passion and drive to learn and become better hockey players.
Coaching is not always easy, but it is rewarding when you see a young player grow and develop into their own unique hockey player, knowing that you guided and helped them along the way.
Celebrating the small victories such as perfecting a new move, making a nice play, winning a tough battle are just some of the exciting and enjoyable moments of coaching.”
For Baldin, it is a tremendous point of pride to be able to serve in the Oakville Hornets organization. As a side note, Baldin is not the only accomplished CWHL competitor to serve as a coach with the Hornets. Brampton Thunder blueliner (and 2015 Four Nations Cup participant) Courtney Birchard serves on the coaching of the Hornets’ Midget AA team, which competes in the Lower Lakes Female Hockey League.
While the municipality of Oakville is home to hockey icon Ron McLean and has produced many NHLers, it is quickly becoming home to one of the most remarkable systems of developing elite female hockey talent. Brianne Jenner, a gold medalist at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games and a rising star in world-class play grew up in Oakville.
With the Hornets committed to the female game, setting a gold standard that others can emulate, Baldin is helping to contribute to an amazing era, building on Jenner’s legacy.
“I am fortunate to have been given this opportunity to coach within the Oakville Hornets Association. They place a large amount of focus on the overall development of female hockey players and have brought on many female players, like myself, to share our experiences with their players.”
Considering that the organization’s highest level of competition consists of PWHL play, led by accomplished head coach Bradi Cochrane, the efforts of Baldin are destined to provide Cochrane with some highly coachable and talented players, ensuring a great future remains part of the Hornets’ goals.
Last season, the Hornets finished with the best regular season record in the PWHL, qualifying for the league’s Final Four playoff. Despite not capturing the league title, the Hornets redeemed themselves with an OWHA Provincial Championship, testament to the efforts and talents of those involved with the organization.
As Baldin continues to gain experience in the coaching ranks, Cochrane and her remarkable accomplishments are among a group of coaches that she looks up to. Taking into account that Baldin’s head coach with the Furies is Sommer West, a former competitor in softball at the Summer Games, also the first former CWHL player to win a Clarkson Cup as a coach, there is a wealth of remarkable people from which to learn.
“I have been fortunate enough to have a number of mentors who have guided me and taught me different and effective ways of coaching. I have taken a little bit from every coach I have had and combined those ideas to create my own coaching philosophy.
I am definitely not short on resources when it comes to reaching out for coaching advice and guidance! Sommer West, Bradi Cochrane, Darryl Giancola and Candice Moxley to name a few.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Image obtained from Facebook