U SPORTS sits down with one key athlete, coach, and staff member of each U SPORTS athletic program in our interview series “Getting to know…”
- Name: Bruce Donaldson
- School: UPEI
- Sport: Women’s Hockey
- Position: Head Coach
- Seniority: 14 years
- Previous school/position: Coaching at various levels including PEI Canada Games Program
- Hometown: Charlottetown, P.E.I.
1. How did you first get involved in coaching? What was your path to your position as head coach of UPEI?
I started coaching 34 years ago when I was working in Moncton, N.B. I was asked to get involved in minor hockey and ended up taking a Peewee AA team to the provincial finals. I moved to the female side of the game once my daughter started to play. I have coached from novice to midget on the male side but moved over totally to the female side when I started coaching at UPEI.
2. Who are the people that have influenced you most as a coach?
I’ve been involved in minor sport my entire life and have had the great fortune to have some wonderful people help me along the way. Former NHLer from P.E.I. native Bobby MacMillan would be one individual who I really respected - he had a great vision for the game and taught me how to adapt during in game situations.
3. How would you describe your coaching style?
I would describe myself as very collaborative with my coaching staff and players. I believe in being honest and fair and over the years have learned to make the hard decisions which come from being a head coach at this level.
4. Which coach do you admire the most, and why?
My favourite coach is actually not a hockey guy - Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots.
5. What is the most “out-of-the-box” thing you’ve done as a coach?
We were in a tournament in the U.S. once and the overtime went by decreasing numbers -4 on 4, then 3 on 3 etc. We ended up going 1 on 1 and we had an offensive faceoff so I pulled our goalie and we won!
6. What is your greatest coaching moment or achievement?
In 2012 we won the AUS championships I remember before the game being so prepared and calm and once I finished our pregame piece, I remember looking at each player and thinking this is what it feels like to have total buy-in.
7. What’s the best advice you can give to an athlete and/or athlete’s parents?
Gain a clear understanding of your athletic strengths and continue to develop what you do well. Every player has a role, be willing to embrace this and commit to constantly improving your skill set. Key to a strong start each year is one's physical and mental fitness preparation
8. How have you changed as a coach over time? What principles/values, etc. have remained the same?
I think I have changed over time. Today’s players require lots of feedback, they challenge coaches more which I think is a good thing. You need to be able to communicate very well with the entire team and help establish your teams “DNA” each and every year.
9. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not in coaching mode?
I’m blessed with an amazing family - we spend a lot of time together catching up and socializing. Our oldest daughter and her husband are expecting our first grandson on Apr. 1 – my wife and I are crazy excited.
10. What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you as a coach?
I’m somewhat of a wanderer during practices so annually I will get wiped out by a player - some of them have been pretty good hits.
The UPEI Panthers host the U SPORTS Women’s Hockey Championship from Thursday to Sunday at MacLauchlan Arena in Charlottetown. Livestream the entire tournament on USPORTS.LIVE, or follow USPORTS.ca and @USPORTS_Hockey for full coverage.