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Strength and resilience a lesson worth learning, says UVic coach

Carrie Watts an inspiration to young women
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Carrie Watts is head coach of the University of Victoria Vikes women’s basketball program. (Photo courtesy of UVic)

Tim Collins/Contributor

By the time Carrie Watts was appointed head coach of the University of Victoria Vikes women’s basketball program, she had already had an impressive career.

As a player, Watts led the University of British Columbia team to a 2004 championship. That was the school’s first title in 30 years. Watts was recognized as a Canada West all-star, the Canadian Defensive Player of the Year and MVP.

After leaving UBC, Watts joined Canadian senior national team in 2005 and remained there for three seasons, competing in the 2006 World Championships and the 2007 Pan American Games.

She served as the head coach for the U16 and U17 squads and assistant coach for Team Canada.

But with all of that, Watts still credits her success to others.

“I had the chance to be coached by strong women throughout my playing career and it’s shown me the challenges faced by women in sports leadership positions,” said Watts.

“I recall how the great Allison McNeill was my coach … and her husband was the assistant coach. She was so great, but I can’t tell you the number of times that refs would walk past her to talk to her husband.”

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Watts sees a part of her responsibilities at UVic to help her players not only excel at their sport, but to be successful in life, and to do so by looking to other strong women role models.

“We have these great alumni that give of their time to help the players. They’re a big part of the program,” said Watts.

“We get the players to understand that all these women were you. Stories and problems that you think are unique to you have all happened before. (These strong women) understand the hardships and struggles that you’re facing.”

Watts dedicates herself to creating the strong women role models of tomorrow and helping players to recognize the importance of connecting to the community and committing yourself to excellence in everything that you do.

“I think that we can make a change in the way society sees women. I have an 11-year-old son who has grown up with an expectation that women can be in a position of leadership,” Watts said.

“I teach him the same things I tell my players. We go through hard times, but we can still be confident and resilient. That’s what lets you be the best you can be.”

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