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McAlpine, van Aggelen Earn Female Coach of the Year Honours

Photo by Laurie Anderson

McAlpine, van Aggelen Earn Female Coach of the Year Honours

This weekend, Hockey Canada unveiled its Female Coaches of the Year. 17 highly-deserving prominent female leaders were recognized, with a provincial/territorial and national breakdown. Included in the selections were community ‘winners’ as well as ‘high performance’ coaches of the year. These awards are presented to individuals who continue to make outstanding contributions to the sport over an extended period of time.

The well-decorated Teresa Hutchinson (Ontario) earned the national high performance Female Coach of the Year honour, while Alberta’s Samantha Holmes-Domagala took home the national community Female Coach of the Year award.

Nicole McAlpine of Winnipeg has been named Manitoba’s Female Community Coach of the Year, while Ashley van Aggelen – also serving in Winnipeg – has been awarded with the province’s Female High Performance Coach of the Year recognition.

McAlpine – who attended the University of Winnipeg in the digital marketing field – serves as head coach of the Winnipeg Jets Hockey Academy Female Bantam program. Joining WJHA in 2015, the former hockey and ringette coach worked hand-in-hand with the St. James Assiniboia Hockey Academy. She has since become a part of the True North Youth Foundation, where he manages social media content with the WJHA.

Now as a head coach within the Hockey Academy, McAlpine has spent time working with both the female Bantam and Peewee age groups, and has taken part in Hockey Canada’s Skills Academy seminar.

“I feel super grateful,” McAlpine said in a press released issued from TNSE. “I was shocked. I have put so much time and energy into my coaching these past few years, it really means a lot to me… Coaching the foundation teams, I know some kids have it tough at home, so being able to see them at the rink so excited for something has really inspired me. I love giving back and being that person behind the bench, that person they can look up to.”

van Aggelen – a ninth-year head coach of the Winnipeg Avros – has now been behind the bench for 16 seasons within Manitoba. Following the conclusion of her playing career with the University of Manitoba Bisons, van Aggelen hopped on board with the Polar Ice of the Manitoba Women’s Junior Hockey League, where she led the team for seven seasons to two provincial championships.

She then moved on to Provincial Midget AAA, where she has coached the Winnipeg Avros for the past nine years, supervising three fellow staff members: Todd Cook, Kelsi McGonigal and Gord Woodhall. The Avros went 22-3-3 in 2019-20, good for first place, and had a spot in the league final, prior to the season being called due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. van Aggelen has also represented Manitoba provincially, coaching the U18 provincial team three times, while also managing to coach within the Winnipeg Women’s High School Hockey League.

“I’m super honoured,” van Aggelen said. “You put in a lot of hours and you just want to see your players succeed, and to know that they feel that I have had some sort of impact in their life and that they have taken the time to nominate me makes me obviously feel very special. It’s definitely going to be one of my proudest moments outside of my 500th game with the Avros this year. I’m just really full of gratitude with the fact that it was past and present players and families that did the nominating.”

Both McAlpine and van Aggelen will receive a small monetary prize of $1,000 for their coaching efforts over the past number of years – both volunteer and paid.

Carter Brooks - Associate Editor of Game On Magazine - is a news writer and sports columnist situated in Winnipeg, MB. On top of reading and writing, his favourite pastimes include camping, car-modification projects and coaching hockey. Carter can be reached at

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