Teagan is a rugby player, volunteer, and fan, and since 2021, she is also a coach.
As a player in your sport what was the biggest difference you noticed when you made the transition from player to coach?
The background work. As a player, you often do not realize all the preparation that goes into running a practice, coaching a game, and organizing everything to run perfectly. Coaches work hard to share knowledge and improve skills but, they have to do a lot of the work behind the scenes that is often overlooked
What was your relationship with your coach (or coaches) like as an athlete? What was their biggest influence on you
I have always found it important to be close with my coaches. Coaches often fill mentor positions for me and having them as a friend on top of that has allow for mutual respect, open conversations, and a positive environment for growth. I have had a lot of coaches over the years across many sports, and each of them have left me with different lessons. Some of the ones that stick with me are “know your role”, “don’t be a robot”, and "make your teammates look good". “Know your role” has helped me understand what is expected of me in any situation. It has allowed me to analyze where I can succeed, where I need to improve and how to be a good teammate. “Don’t be a robot” sounds a little bit silly at first. To me it means that you do not have to stick to the status quo, you are your own person, and whichever path is best for you, is the correct path to take. "Make your teammates look good" is a classic Ric Suggitt quote that stuck with me. To me it means to take care of others, you have to take care of yourself. In rugby terms, this can mean things like making a good pass so that your teammate can run through a gap. However, this quote also translates to daily life. If you are struggling with your mental or physical health, have something going on in your family or even just need some time to yourself, it needs to be a priority. Take care of yourself, then take care of others.
What made you want to start coaching?
I am a born and raised Lethbridge girl. This community has done so much for me and supported me so well over the years. When a coaching opportunity appeared, I felt like it was something small I could give back. Coaches have always been a great support for me and allowed me to do the things I love. I wanted to take the opportunity to be that for someone else. I am also lucky enough to be a part of a rugby family. My dad played rugby at the Lethbridge Rugby Club while I was growing up and both of my siblings play as well. My sister, Payton Viney, and I work as a package deal in the coaching department so, having my family around to back me up was a bonus.
What is your coaching philosophy like? How has it evolved?
I started as an assistant coach for the Chinook High School girl’s rugby team in 2021, coming into the program shortly after Covid-19 restrictions were lifted and sport could continue. I based my philosophy around sharing knowledge, developing skills, and having fun. As many of the athletes had never played rugby before, knowledge and skills were very important. Sports have always been a huge part of my life and it would all mean nothing if they were not fun. Throwing a fun game into practice always helped to build morale and connections between players. I have also had the privilege to coach the Junior Horns 7’s and 15’s teams for the Alberta Regional Competition over the last year. My philosophy has grown to include the importance of teamwork, and character development. I mostly work with high school aged athletes, so I find it important to coach them as people by teaching life skills. Most importantly, I teach them to enjoy the things they do. It is important to take things seriously but, no one has been hurt from throwing a dance battle or rock paper scissor challenge into warm up.
What is one piece of advice you would give to new coaches?
Don’t be afraid to try something new. Just because things have been taught a certain way or others lead a certain way does not mean you have to do that too. It’s okay to be different. Be creative and have fun!
What was the biggest difference between your experience as an athlete and your experience as a coach?
As an athlete, you are focussed on so many things at a time. For example, remembering plays, nutrition, fitness, skill development or even where to be on the field. Everything you are doing is based on yourself and your development. As a coach, your focus shifts to how to help others. You yourself are not on the field running around and making tackles anymore. You get to be on the sideline watching, giving feedback, supporting players, and calling the shots. People look to you for advice, to be a shoulder to cry on after a tough loss and to cheer them on. The mindset changes from “how do I do this for me” to “how do I use what I have to help others succeed”.
What has been the most challenging part of your coaching experience?
My first season coaching, only 8 of our 48 players had played rugby before. I was so excited to jump into it but was forced to take a huge step back to the basics. This reality check changed my idea of who I was going to be as a coach. Instead of focusing on gameplay and strategy, my focus shifted to skills and team building. Although this was a challenge at the time, I am very grateful that it happened. It shaped me as a coach and made me understand how to build connections and manage expectations.
What does it mean to you to be coaching the next generation of athletes?
I am beyond thrill and grateful for all the athletes I have been able to coach. Each of them provides me with a unique experience and I cannot wait to see what some of them do. They remind me every day that anything is possible, and the only limit is the limit you place on yourself.
What is your favorite memory from coaching?
I will always remember our last game at the U18 7’s Alberta Regional competition in January. It was a super close game against the Mavericks. Our team scored on the last play of the game to win it. The excitement in that moment was unmatched. Everyone ran into the end zone to celebrate. It was one of those moments that makes all the time, effort, and preparation worth it.