By: Andrea Eymann
Special to the Wreckhouse Weekly
PORT AUX BASQUES – In every province in Canada, female hockey coaches are nominated for the BLF Female Coach of the Year. BFL stands for Barry F. Lorenzetti, the CEO and founder of BFL Canada, who had partnered with Hockey Canada in 2019 to recognize female coaches.
In Port aux Basques, Krystal Blackler, 38, has won the community award for female coach of the year. Stephanie Delaney won the high-performance award for Newfoundland.
The community coach award recognizes coaches within the community. Blackler coaches the novice programs in the Port aux Basques Minor Hockey Association (PABMH).
John Pucci from Hockey Canada said there were many factors to win and that, “She (Blackler) had more of these factors than anyone else.”
When she received the email asking to discuss her coaching and hockey credential from Hockey Canada, Blackler said, “At first I thought it was spam mail. I didn’t really think that this guy from Hockey Canada would be emailing me personally.”
When she was sitting in on the Zoom call with Hockey Canada, she was ready with her pen and paper to take notes. Instead they announced the news she had been named BFL female coach of the year.
“I was speechless,” admitted Blackler. “I love that I received the award. It’s a great honour, but I truly don’t even know what words I can use.”
She said she never dedicates her time to hockey to be recognized. She does it because she loves hockey. On the Zoom call Blackler said she puts her life and soul into coaching.
“I love hockey. I love coaching. I love being with the kids. I love spreading my knowledge of the game,” said Blackler. “I have a better understanding of the game now then I ever did as a player.”
Blackler started playing hockey at 11-years old in central Newfoundland on a female group in the Twillingate New World Minor Hockey Association in 1994. She started to coach hockey when her three children got involved in hockey.
“I followed them up through, coaching my daughter and my two boys in the different divisions in the initiation program.”
Added Blackler, “I was a coach in that group for seven years.”
She also coaches the Under-9 and Under-12 female group with PABMH.
A couple of years ago, Blackler created a hockey team of women with 12 players in Port aux Basques. When the team had their first provincial tournament up in Deer Lake, they had no expectations of winning a single game. On their first day of the tournament they won their first two games
“It was a wonderful feeling as a coach,” said Blackler.
They ended up in the highest division, and “We didn’t get a medal, but it didn’t matter.”
It was the expression on the girls’ faces when they won those two games that Blackler recalls so well.
“Which was a very exciting time for me as a coach.”
The following year the same team went to another tournament in Stephenville, and this time they won.
“They finally got their gold medal, and everyone was so excited,” said Blackler.
“I always say I am what I am and I want to see every player, no matter what skill level, being treated fairly,” said Blackler about her coaching style.
“The biggest impact on a player is a coach,” said Pucci. “This program highlights the impact that females are having in the coaching game.”