Wilson selected as assistant coach for Canada Games

By Allan Bradbury
Staff Writer

A volleyball coach from the Rainy River District is showing her coaching prowess once again. Amy Wilson is an assistant coach with the women’s varsity volleyball team at the University of Waterloo and has been chosen as an assistant coach for Team Ontario’s Women’s team at the 2025 Canada Games.

Wilson got her start coaching in a Fort Frances area elementary school at the prompting of her dad she had no idea of the journey she was embarking on.

I first started coaching because my dad asked me to coach at a local elementary school in Fort Frances,” Wilson said. “I was kind of like ‘ok yeah, I’ll do it’ and I didn’t realize that it was going to become my career.”

Wilson has had a lot of success in coaching recently taking home several awards for her work. She won the 2021 Sandy Silvers Female Coach of the Year from the Ontario Volleyball Association, in 2022 she was given an Enhanced High Performance Female Coaching Membership with the Coaches Association of Canada (of which only 15 were awarded across the country. She also received a Coaching Excellence Award from the Coaches Association of Ontario (Again only 15 awarded).

This summer Wilson was head coach of the girls team that represented Ontario at the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) in Halifax, NS and also spent time running development camps in remote First Nations communities for both children and adults.

When the Ontario Volleyball association put out a call looking for coaches, Wilson responded.

“There was an application process where you had to do a video and answer five questions and fill out some information about yourself,” Wilson said. “I hemmed and hawed about applying because I wanted to make sure it worked for my family as well as my other coaching duties. I decided to apply and got an interview. Funny story, I was out on the lake fishing in Northwestern Ontario visiting home for a friend’s wedding I got in range of phone service and all of a sudden I heard ‘ding, ding, ding.’ and there was the email congratulating me on being an assistant coach for the Canada Games.”

One of Wilson’s favourite memories from coaching dates back to her time in Fort Frances when she coached the Fort Frances High School Muskies Senior Girls.

“I was coaching in 2017 and we hadn’t won a championship in 16 years and we were in our own gym and we ended up winning NorWOSSA which gave us a berth to NWOSSAA where we met the Westgate Tigers out of Thunder Bay again in our home gym,” Wilson recounted. “The crowd was packed and whoever won this series was going to all-Ontarios and in our very first set we went down 12-24 (in a set to 25 points). We had a time out and I said we were just going to take this point by point and leave everything out on the floor. Sydney White went to the service line and she put the first one in and we got a point and about four or five points later I remember that the team was on the floor looking at me and in that moment I knew that they knew I believed in them. We ended up winning that set 26-24 and we never looked back. We won the series and went to OFSAA.”

Over the years Wilson has come to enjoy many aspects of coaching but has some favourites.

“I’ve realized over the years that coaching is about giving back to the athletes and giving them an opportunity to play post-secondary or semi-pro or pro, or one day on a national team,” she said. “Whatever it may be, I just want to be a stepping stone along the way to help them through that process…I think too, it’s so much more than coaching. People think coaches go and bark orders at athletes but you’re actually helping shape humans, you’re helping them for their future careers. Coaches can be like your parents, your counselor, your therapist and so on. Coaching is tough but there’s so much reward in it.”

Coaching is also something Wilson has passed on to her daughter Adyson who took a big step and coached the 16U boys team Ontario at NAIG this summer.

“She’s been on the bench with me since she was 14 years old, helping in whichever way she could,” Wilson said. “She was given the opportunity to coach at NAIG and she took the chance and I remember sitting in the stands watching her interact with those athletes I was just so taken aback by how calk she was and how she gave them hope in moments where they probably didn’t have any and I think it’s really cool that she’s following in my footsteps. What else is really neat about this, is being the highest indigenous female coach in volleyball, I’ve had to kind of pave the way for indigenous coaches, or any coach behind me. I’ve now seen that it’s starting to pay off in Addison. So I think that it’s really cool.”

Amy Wilson has been selected as one of two assistant coaches for Team Ontario’s girls indoor volleyball team as they prepared for the 2025 Canada Summer Games to be held in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Wilson will be working alongside fellow assistant coach John Nguyen and Team Ontario girls indoor volleyball head coach Jen Neilson. – Submitted photo