‘If you learn from great people, it inspires you’
To many in soccer circles in Nova Scotia, the name of Cindy Tye is synonymous with the sport as a player, coach and promoter of the game.
As Cindy Montgomerie, she played five years for Acadia (1990-1994), helping the women’s squad win a national championship in her first year. Tye was a multiple conference and national all-star, twice Acadia’s Female Athlete of the Year, and twice an academic all-Canadian.
After her university career ended, Tye played senior women’s soccer for several years, helping her teams win 12 provincial championships and six national medals, including national gold in 1995.
She was inducted into the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame in 2010, the Acadia Sports Hall of Fame in 2011 and is the recipient of Soccer Nova Scotia’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Last summer, Tye coached the Nova Scotia Canada Games womens’ soccer team – 20 years after her own participation in the 1993 games. The 2013 team included a pair of local girls, Coldbrook’s Emily Nickerson and Port Williams’ Jessica Shaffelburg.
The 42-year-old now lives in Bedford, teaches part-time at Hants West Middle School, coaches with Soccer Nova Scotia’s High Performance program, and helps with her children’s soccer teams.
Teaching on the field
Tye says she has had a number of role models through her years on the pitch.
“Most of my coaches were role models to me,” starting with Mike MacKay, her high school basketball coach at CEC in Truro.
“He went on to work for Basketball Canada,” she said of MacKay. “He was a great teacher, and a great coach.”
“Laura was absolutely a role model,” she said of her Acadia coach Laura Sanders, “and so was John Kehoe, my coach for many years on club teams, provincial teams and the Canada Games team.
“If you learn from great people, it inspires you,” Tye said. “The coaches I had all had a big effect on me, both in terms of making me a better player and now, a better coach. Their influence on me is one of the major reasons I got into coaching.”
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For Tye, turning to coaching “was a natural progression, given my background in the game and my training as a teacher.
“I didn’t know that I’d get as heavily involved as I have, but I’m enjoying it. The kids are great, and it’s fun to keep learning and stay involved.”
Tye said she takes every opportunity she can to keep learning and developing her coaching skills. She recently attended a FIFA coaching workshop held in conjunction with the Women’s 20-U World Cup, where she was both participant and presenter.
She has also gotten to coach her own children, 10-year-old Emma and five-year-old Michael.
“They’re on the field all the time.”
Encouraging female coaches
How can coaches, older players, and institutions like Acadia foster more opportunities for young female athletes?
“The first thing there needs to be is opportunities for female athletes to excel,” Tye said, and support to stay in sport as adults.
“We lose a lot of women when they become parents, or when their careers take over,” Tye said.
For example, she said, “a big challenge for parents is child care. My kids have grown up on soccer fields, and Soccer Nova Scotia has been really supportive. I’ve been fortunate, because that isn’t always the case.
“It’s difficult,”Tye said, “and often a fine balance, to keep good women in the game,” both as players and coaches.
“We have to encourage them to stay involved,” she added.
“There’s nothing wrong with males as role models for female athletes – I’ve had several myself – but the power of a female showing another female how to play a sport (or succeed in sport) is very real.”
Read all of the Women in Sport series of features here.