NEW GLASGOW NATIVE BLAZES TRAIL FOR FEMALE COACHES
Nov. 29, 2019
It’s been ten years since Kori Cheverie got her first taste of coaching back in her home province at a Hockey Nova Scotia High Performance Program camp.
“I was just a part-time coach helping out and I can remember standing there and thinking, ‘Oh my God. It is so cold on this bench.’ And I was like, ‘I don’t know if I would ever want to do this.’”
As it turns out, she did.
And she has gotten pretty used to those chilly arena climes, too.
Fast forward a decade and the New Glasgow native is making a name for herself — and a little history, too — behind the bench.
A 2014 Clarkson Cup winner with the Canadian Women’s Hockey League’s Toronto Furies and a long-time member of Hockey Nova Scotia’s High Performance Program, Cheverie became the first female full-time assistant coach in Canadian university men’s hockey history in 2016 when she was hired by the Ryerson Rams.
“It’s been a work in progress for me,” she says.
“I can’t say it was easy right off the bat. It’s been a lot of work.”
But putting in the work and going the extra mile has never been a problem for Cheverie.
Fellow Pictou County native and current Canadian women’s national team forward Blayre Turnbull remembers Cheverie well from her early days behind the bench in 2009 at that Hockey Nova Scotia camp.
Turnbull was vying for a spot on a provincial team.
“For starters, she was always super fun to be around,” Turnbull says.
“But I also felt like I was able to learn a lot from her so she was someone who I definitely looked up to.”
And there were other reasons to look up to her, too.
“One thing about Kori that I remember is that she definitely worked hard and I’m sure it’s the same way now. She’s worked hard for everything and has earned the right to be a well-known coach. I know she brings a lot of knowledge, and excitement, and fun to the game.”
That’s what she has tried to do at Ryerson.
But she admits that coaching a group of young men in their 20s who have years of junior league experience on their hockey resumes can be intimidating.
“They’re all awesome and they’re all respectful,” Cheverie says.
“But you’re always sort of wondering, ‘Am I good enough to be in this position? Am I providing them with enough information?”
A three-time Atlantic University Sport first team all-star with Saint Mary’s, Cheverie has some unique insight into what it takes to succeed both on the ice and in the classroom.
“Patience and grace are something that you need to have in mind when you’re dealing with student athletes who are juggling a lot on their plates,” she says.
She admits that it did take her some time to feel completely comfortable in front of her team. Establishing effective channels of communication in the dressing room and on the bench has helped tear down some of those barriers.
“[These players] have been in an environment where coaches have been hard on them and winning has been everything. So I try to support them the best that I can and provide them with as many different solutions as I can,” Cheverie says.
“I’m a pretty positive coach. I’m not the kind of person that is going to yell at you in front of other people. If there are some teachables that need to happen, I’ll usually pull someone aside or we’ll have a private video session.”
A Canadian coaching trailblazer, Cheverie once again inked her name in the history books this month.
On Nov. 1, the former Saint Mary’s Huskies women’s team captain became the first woman to coach a men's hockey team to a regular season victory as her Rams defeated the Laurentian Voyageurs 2-1.
Cheverie had been filling in as bench boss for Ryerson head coach Johnny Duco who was serving a one-game suspension.
And as she certainly knows, when you’re the first to do something, you are inevitably going to become a role model to a lot of young women.
“It is a lot to shoulder at times but I like what I do and I just try to do it to the best of my ability,” she says.
"Hopefully the byproduct of that is that girls can look up to me and I can help pave the way for the next generation so it won’t be as groundbreaking to see other females coaching or playing on the men’s side of the game.”
Cheverie will be bringing that message back to Nova Scotia when she returns next month for the holiday break.
As usual, she’ll be bringing her skates, too, and she’s hoping to spend some time with some young female players on the same ice that she grew up playing on.
“You’ve got to work hard and you’ve got to stand out,” Cheverie says.
“I think that your work ethic has to be second to none. I think that when it gets hard, you have to stay the course, put your best foot forward, and be a good person .
“It’s always easier to press the eject button when things get tough but I’ll tell you, if you push through, your perseverance will be through the roof and there will be better things to come on the other side.”