Wilson-Hands excited for volleyball coaching future

Jamie Mountain

Amy Wilson-Hands is taking her volleyball coaching career to the next level.

The Fort Frances native will be heading to France next month to train and coach with the France Youth National Team as well as with Team Ontario Elite.

She then will be in British Columbia this summer to train and coach with the Team Canada Next Generation (Senior ‘B’ team) as well as with the Team Canada women’s volleyball team.

“To be honest, I am still a bit in shock that this has all happened,” Wilson-Hands said.

“If you would have asked me a few years ago where and what I wanted to be doing with coaching, this would have been it, so I am completely grateful that I have been blessed with these opportunities. I have worked extremely hard to get to where I am today.”

Wilson-Hands currently is an assistant coach with Team Ontario Elite, which included four training camps as well as a trip to train with the France Junior National team during March Break in Toulouse, France, at their full-time training school.

During the winter training camp, she also had the opportunity to coach alongside Shannon Winzer, who is the current Head Coach of Team Canada Next Generation (Senior ‘B’) team and an assistant coach with the current Team Canada National women’s team.

“One thing led to another and I found myself heading to Richmond, BC to train with the teams at the Olympic Oval,” Wilson-Hands noted.

“The Senior team has qualified this summer for the Volleyball Nations League, so they will be in to train and then out to compete. I’ll head back sometime in September to help coach with the Regional Excellence Program (REP), which are athletes that were identified across Canada to train in Richmond over a four-month period.”

With the France trip, Wilson-Hands said she is most looking forward to being in a year-round training facility to see how they train and incorporate school.

She also cannot wait to learn from the France coaching staff as well as play in the friendly international match against the France Junior national team in Carcassonne.

“France loves Canadians so they pack the venue, which holds 3,000 fans,” the former Muskie volleyball coach explained.

“It will be an amazing experience and a preview to what coaching during an international match will be like. The anthems are played, flags raised, starting lineups announced, music and fans. Think of what an Olympic match is like on TV and that is how this match is run.”

As for her upcoming time with Team Canada, Wilson-Hands said she is most looking forward to seeing how training is at the national level, learning from Shannon Winzer, as well as learning from Team Canada head Coach Tom Black, who she noted has turned the women’s program around.

“I also cannot wait to jump in the gym and coach alongside these amazing coaches as well as with these top athletes,” she enthused.

“Shannon and Tom are both huge inspirations to me. While Shannon was at winter camp, I ran a six versus six drill for Team Ontario Elite. While the drill was being implemented, I looked over to Shannon with her phone taking pictures of the whiteboard. She later came over and asked me if she could use the drill with Team Canada.

“I was completely honoured and can’t wait to see if the drill is used in the gym this summer,” Wilson-Hands added.

Moving forward, Wilson-Hands believes that the biggest challenges she will have is balancing both her family and coaching responsibilities.

She also revealed that she will be with Team Ontario Red during their time at the High Performance Centre as well as with Aboriginal Team Ontario for the North American Indigenous Games on top of these national opportunities.

“So in total I’ll be gone close to eight weeks this summer,” Wilson-Hands remarked.

“I have an amazing, supportive family who is ready to jump in and help and also encourage me to continue to follow my dreams.”

Wilson-Hands said these national coaching and training opportunities has lit another fire under her to remain pursuant of an education with the Advanced Coaching Diploma (Level 4 & 5). She also has set a goal for herself to be on the bench at the 2028 Olympics.

“I want to continue to be a strong Indigenous female role-model for the younger generation,” she said.

“It’ll open more doors for me coaching-wise. I can put what I learn in my bag of coaching experiences and continue to help athletes that I coach, whether it be on a regular basis, or coming home to Fort Frances to run a few practices for a club team.

“I am still very much involved in our region’s volleyball (Region 1) and still continue to help grow the sport but more in a ‘behind the scenes’ way,” Wilson-Hands noted.

“Post-secondary coaches are always contacting me to ask about athletes and it is so rewarding when an athlete continues their volleyball career at the post-secondary level.”