Carla Nicholls is currently the National Event Group Coach for Jumps and Combined Events with Athletics Canada. She has achieved her IAAF Level 5 Elite Coach certification in Horizontal Jumps and NCCP Level 4 Certification in Athletics. Her 22 years of involvement with athletics has ranged from small club development to serving as head coach at the University of Regina, to being a two-time Olympic team coach (2008 & 2010). She is a graduate of the Coaching Association of Canada?s Women in Coaching Apprenticeship Program and is an active ChPC with Coaches of Canada. She was a writer of the New NCCP manual for athletics, a contributor to Athletics Canada?s Long-term Athlete Development program, and is a Master Learning Facilitator for all levels of the NCCP.
What are your coaching philosophies and how did you shape them?
My coaching philosophy has always been what I can do to bring the best out of every athlete I have the opportunity to work with no matter the age or ability. Coaching is a privilege and the position of coaching should never be taken lightly. Coaching provides an opportunity to spend a very small amount of time with athletes no matter where they are in their developmental pathways. I try to ensure that my presence will provide them with a tool or two to assist them to be the best they can be at that time and hopefully in their futures as they tackle the rest of their lives. Long term athlete development is a priority in my approach when working with developing athletes. My biggest challenge is convincing parents and other supporters of the athletes that this approach will have the best results in the future!
Which of your coaching achievements are you most proud of?
I am so proud of so many moments along this journey, I have been extremely blessed and am truly grateful for all my experiences. If I had to pick one, it would be the development of the University of Regina Team. When I took over the program, there were 17 athletes, 3 who were females. Our team was last in the conference. When I left the team to pursue a career with my NSO, I had built the team up to over 90 athletes on the roster and 50% of them were females. The year I left, the team one the conference championships several years in a row!
What are your coaching ambitions for the future?
I have had a great journey in the world of athletics and I am so grateful for every step I have taken and for every mentor I have worked with. My hopes are to continue to learn and continue to push the boundaries of whatever comes my way. Mentoring other young female coaches and sport leaders has become a passion of mine. I want to give them the tools to be the very best that they can be, just as so many amazing leaders did for me.
Do you feel there are a lack of female coaches and leaders in your sport?
Oh yes! In every aspect of my sport from coaches, technical leaders, officials and high performance positions.
Have you ever experienced discrimination in sport due to your gender?
I have been surrounded by amazing colleagues, most who are men. My male counterparts challenged me, which in turn made me stronger. There are certainly times when there were some uncomfortable and sometimes comical moments. I have quite often lead national teams with a team manager who was male. We work very well together. Interestingly though, when dealing with the meet directors and those who perceive they are in positions of power who do not know us, they will almost always speak directly to my manager and assume he is the head coach.
What do you think needs to be improved / changed in order to raise the profile of female sports coaches?
I think we have done a fantastic job of identifying the barriers that women have as they try to move up to leadership roles within sport. We now need to put solutions into action.? Giving women the tools to smash down road blocks and hurdles should now be the priority. The best people to do this are women themselves! I cannot over stress the importance of mentoring. There is no greater learning tool then a mentor who has success in the leadership world of sport and who can guide our young girls and women. Sport is the one thing that the entire world seems to understand and can cooperate together to achieve greatness. Having more women in leadership positions in sport can only make the world a better place, not only in sport, but in every day life.