Local coach set for national stage

Joey Payeur

There’s no rest for the weary, they say, but Amy Wilson-Hands is too pumped with excitement to be fatigued.
Fresh off of coaching Ontario’s 16U girls’ volleyball team at the North American Indigenous Games from July 16-23 in Toronto, the Fort Frances resident now is headed to Winnipeg to be an apprentice coach for Ontario’s 18U women’s volleyball squad at the Canada Summer Games.
The Games themselves began Friday with the opening ceremonies, but Wilson-Hands and the rest of the team did not take part in them as their event does not get going until this Monday.
“I honestly think about this every day and I still cannot believe that it is happening,” she enthused.
“To be coaching at the second biggest multi-sport event, just behind the Olympics, is unbelievable,” Wilson-Hands added.
“I feel so honoured.”
Wilson-Hands stressed it was no big deal to go from being a head coach at NAIG to having somebody else call the final shots at the Canada Summer Games.
“The transition hasn’t been tough at all,” she remarked.
“The opportunity to go from apprentice coach to head coach [at NAIG] was great because I got to take what I learned from Team Ontario, modify it a bit, and teach Aboriginal Team Ontario,” Wilson-Hands reasoned.
“I missed coaching at the USA High Performance Championships in Florida with Team Ontario, but I experienced an event [NAIG] filled with culture, sports, competition, and so much more.
“It was amazing.”
Team Ontario has been preparing in its home province for the challenge ahead.
“The Team Ontario coaching staff completely believes in this team and has given them the foundation to win,” Wilson-Hands said.
“To be honest, any team could be tough,” she conceded, though citing Alberta, B.C., and Manitoba as possible top contenders.
“Team Ontario always has a target on its back because we tend to do so well as a province and everyone wants to beat us, but we will battle and do what it takes to win.”
One could forgive Wilson-Hands if she wasn’t totally focused on her work preparing for the Canada Summer Games considering her youngest daughter, Adyson, and Dryden teammate Emily Heil are participating in the USA Junior Beach Championships this week in Hermosa Beach, Calif.
“Adyson has done great things for herself and I am so proud of her,” Wilson-Hands said.
“I think about how she is doing all the time, and it has been difficult to not be on the sidelines or the bench cheering and coaching her,” she admitted.
“But we are lucky to have such a strong support system in our family, as well as Emily’s mom, Laurel, so I know she is in good hands.
“Ady knows I’m her biggest fan and I’m cheering her on from wherever I am, even if it’s not right there with her,” Wilson-Hands added.
“She’s got big dreams and she is doing what she needs to [in order] to be able to reach them.”
If Ontario could win gold or even a medal of any variety at the Canada Summer Games, Wilson-Hands said the countless hours she’s put into this adventure were worth it.
“It would mean that I reached a goal that I set for myself last year,” she remarked. “It would mean I did everything I could to help this team accomplish their goals.
“It would mean that this is just the beginning for our region because everything that I have been taught will be given to our athletes to help them prepare for the next level, whether it be club, high school, provincial team, or college or university,” Wilson-Hands vowed.
“I am going to be so sad when this is all over, but I’m taking in each day and seeing what I need to accomplish to become a better coach.”