West Hants Warriors on a roll
BROOKLYN, N.S. – The West Hants Warriors, an Atom AA team in Brooklyn, have had an incredible season and go into the playoffs undefeated.
Germaine’s own hockey career has been a wild ride, from injuries, to broadcasting the game, and now coaching professionally.
WINDSOR, N.S. - The 2019 Canada Winter Games are still years away, but Hockey Nova Scotia has already lined up its coaching staff.
Isabelle Germain, a hockey coach at King’s-Edgehill School, will be an assistant coach on the girls' team, and she’s already excited to get to work.
Germain is only 24, but she can already be considered a rising star in the hockey coaching world - thanks to her wealth of experience on and off the ice.
She’ll be working with the team’s head coach, Kirk Tomlinson, once again. The two worked together during the Atlantic Challenge Cup in the past couple of years.
The Canada Winter Games, which will be held in Red Deer, Alberta, will bring young athletes from across the country to compete.
Germain and her fellow coaching staff have two years to prepare and, in the meantime, they’ll be getting girls from across the province ready through training camps and regular hockey programs.
“I’ve been with the core of girls who will be going to the Canada Games for two years now,” Germain said. “This age group is who I’m most familiar with. When we play Rothesay, I know half their team.”
Isabelle Germaine (right) gives one of her players on the KES girls’ hockey team some encouragement on the ice during practice at the Hants Exhibition Arena.
Germain said she wouldn’t be surprised if girls from the KES team make it to team Nova Scotia.
“We have some of the top players in the province,” she said. “I think those girls, even without me on the coaching staff, will definitely be on that team. They’re going to have to work for it. Some people think they get favourited, but I think, if anything, I’m harder on them.”
Germain said one of the challenges of coaching Team Nova Scotia is ensuring they stay focused on the present and not dwell on the future.
“The big thing is to develop in those two years, not just individually, but as a team,” she said. “You bring everyone together and that chemistry might not be there right from the get-go. You don’t have time to teach, to practice, you just need a system in place that they can believe in.”
Germain said she was honoured to be part of the coaching staff as part of Team Nova Scotia so early in her career.
“It’s not a glory-job, with like a $50 million salary you know, it’s a lot of work, it’s 24 hours a day, but I love it,” she said. “I believe in coaching and I believe in this age group.”
Isabelle Germain will be joining the coaching bench for Team Nova Scotia for the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alberta.
Behind the scenes
Germain talks with a confidence and easiness that some in sports lack, and it may have something to do with her background in broadcasting. She was one of the main correspondents covering Atlantic University Sport with Bell Aliant.
“I thought I was going down that path for a while, but deep down I always knew I wanted to coach, and those opportunities came about,” she said.
Germain describes herself as an import from Ontario, originally hailing from Guelph, where her parents reside. She also has extended family in Quebec.
“I’ve got roots in a couple different places,” Germain said. “I’ve been here in Nova Scotia now for almost seven years.”
When it comes to coaching, Germain is not afraid to get on the ice.
Dealing with injury
Germain was a hockey star in her own right, before a concussion in high school sidelined her.
“Concussion is really what ended it,” she said. “It was my last year of high school hockey, just after March break, the end of the season, and I got blindsided right in the middle of the ice and got knocked out cold.”
The results were devastating.
“Unfortunately, that happened before Sidney Crosby got hit, because talk on concussions was so hush-hush before,” she said. “I was rushed to the hospital and I had a neck injury, ribs were hit, my shoulder was hurt, my hip was really messed up, so there were so many scary things going on at the surface that looking at my head was not their main concern.”
Germain said she rested after the hit, but resumed training that summer at Dalhousie but noticed she felt different on the ice - something wasn’t right.
“I had been upset, I had pain I had never felt before, I couldn’t open my eyes in the light,” she said. “As soon as Crosby got hit, my doctor got a report from other doctors sharing information and they then knew what we should do, and it was pretty immediate, they called and said ‘get her off the ice.’”
Germain did a CT Scan and an MRI and results showed some serious concussion trauma.
“I struggled with depression, I failed out of school,” she said. “There’s always an excuse with concussions, like ‘it’s her first year away from her family,’ or I was homesick or not adapting well to university life, but I knew at the end of the day that it wasn’t that.”
She said she doesn’t shy away from talking about her concussion because it helped to inspire her university degree - health promotion, where she focused her research on concussions.
Since then, Germain has continued to focus on coaching hockey at various levels.
During her first year as assistant coach with the high performance U16 team, her team received silver; the next year, they brought home a gold.
This is Germain’s first year as a full-time hockey coach with King’s-Edgehill School, where she also teaches biology.
Her next big challenge? The Canada Winter Games.
“I think what I bring to the team is just a love for the game and I understand my role as a role model for the girls,” she said. “That’s something I take a lot of pride in, I help out with guys hockey too, but I’m a really big supporter of promoting the female game.”
About the 2019 Canada Winter Games
The 2019 Canada Winter Games will be held from Feb. 15 to March 3, 2019 in Red Deer, Alberta.
At the 2015 Canada Winter Games in Prince George, B.C., Nova Scotia’s male team defeated British Columbia 3-2 in the fifth-place game to finish fifth overall, the province’s best finish since 1979.
Nova Scotia’s female team defeated New Brunswick 2-0 in the seventh-place game to finish seventh in the female division.