WEYBURN -- The home opener for the Richardson Pioneer Weyburn Gold Wings tonight will be the first time that new head coach Chandy Kaip officially leads the team from the bench.
"Today is day five for me," laughed Kaip, during an interview at Crescent Point Place prior to the start of the home opener. "We have six veterans, I believe, and a very energetic team. They are ready to buy in, have a commitment, and move forward in a new way for the Gold Wings."
"It will be important to get settled (with the team), learning, growing and development are big pieces. We need to start off the foundation that is already here, and move forward with a lot of commitment, development and growth. Really we will need to step up our game in all directions," said Kaip.
"One of the biggest reasons to why I am here today is to promote growth and development (for female hockey). Being from southern Saskatchewan, and knowing you only had two options to play female hockey when I was a player, it is valuable to know we have an elite program to prepare these players for future opportunities in Canada and the CIS, or the United States and the NCAA."
"It is important that these players have opportunities as their counterparts in male hockey. It is such a great opportunity to develop these young players and women into strong athletes and students, and great members of the community."
Kaip started her hockey career at the age of three. She played all of her minor hockey in her hometown of Radville.
In Grade 9, she attended Notre Dame College in Wilcox, where she played four successful years on the AAA Female Hockey team. From there, Kaip was recruited to the University of New Hampshire to their NCAA Division 1 defending championship team, with a full scholarship. With the UNH she was fortunate to experience competing in the Division 1 National Championships.
During her senior year with the UNH, Kaip ranked seventh overall in points for Hockey East and was honoured with the Sixth Player Award. Upon graduation with a BA in psychology, she accepted an assistant coach position with Utica College, New York. From there, she was an assistant coach for one year at the Warner Hockey Academy, then moved onto the head coach position at Adrian College in Michigan.
Kaip built a NCAA Division 3 program from the ground up, and their team was actually ranked top five in the country at one point in their inaugural season.
She was the first head coach ever hired by the University of Lethbridge in the CIS division. Through intense fundraising efforts, that program built a female locker room, hosted the first-ever Female Hockey Challenge, and traveled to Germany and Austria to participate in tournaments and exhibition games against their top level teams. In 2012, Kaip was honoured with the CIS Canada West Coach of the Year award.
After seven rewarding seasons and two babies, Kaip retired from coaching to pursue her Masters in Counseling Psychology. She is a registered psychotherapist with the CCPA. Kaip recently relocated to Weyburn with her two children. Currently, in addition to being the new head coach for the Gold Wings, Kaip is a full time counselor at the Weyburn Comp.
As the Gold Wings face up against the Saskatoon Stars in tonight's game (hosted at Crescent Point Place at 7:30 p.m.), it will be a chance for Kaip to get a feel for other teams in the league. "Obviously I know that Notre Dame has been a strong contender, so they will be quite strong. Regina is pretty strong. I am not familiar with Prince Albert. However, there have been a lot of changes in the program, so it will be important to be ready to compete, and then be able to adapt and adjust to the different teams."