A former Maritime Women’s Basketball Association player is one of two individuals to earn the inaugural Mike MacKay Transformational Coaching Award from the Canada Basketball Foundation.
Nova Scotia’s Jalynn Skeir joins Manitoba’s Ashley Hoitlink in the award circle, aimed to promote and strengthen basketball leadership and culture while celebrating diverse and inclusive leaders in delivering positive sports experiences.
An equity, diversity, and inclusion scorecard evaluates applications based on the coach’s efforts to address systemic barriers to sport and recreation.
Skeir was a key player with the MWBA’s Halifax Hornets in the league’s first season in 2022. She was a sparkplug player, who helped the Hornets win the first-ever Legacy Cup, where she was named game MVP.
The Halifax product appeared in 100 USPORTS games with Cape Breton University Capers from 2013 to 2017 before joining the MWBA. She would join the coaching ranks with Basketball Nova Scotia’s elite program.
The award is named after Nova Scotia’s Mike MacKay, who is Canada Basketballs performance manager for its women’s high performance program.
‘Coaches who inspire the athletes are positive role models and challenge them, especially to think and treat them as individuals. I was very fortunate to have parents and coaches that demonstrated these qualities,’ MacKay said to Canada Basketball. ‘To support coaches like Ashley and Jalynn, who exemplify these qualities, is very rewarding. I am confident that we can continue to grow the importance of being a transformational coach by highlighting and recognizing these coaches.’
Both Skeir and Hoitlink will receive a $2,500 bursary for their dedication to basketball and coaching leadership.
A leader within the Nova Scotia basketball community as a coach, Skeir is committed to growing the game and being a positive role model for both her players and fellow coaches. She developed the Armbrae Academy girls’ basketball program and has been head coach of senior girls’ division I, Tier I team since 2020. Before joining Armbrae, Skeir was an assistant coach with Acadia University Axewomen for three seasons from 2017-2020.
‘What an honour to have received the first Mike MacKay Transformational Coaching Award,’ Skeir said. ‘As a young black female coach, my underlying passion for teaching and coaching has always been providing representation for youth who look like me and this award allows me to continue to do that. Coaching not only puts me in a position to provide representation but also helps to create, encourage and empower young leaders. This grant will be a crucial catalyst in advancing my coaching path, granting me access to advanced training and valuable resources that will empower me to facilitate transformative change in my athletes.’
Since 2014, Skeir has coached with Basketball Nova Scotia in a variety of provincial team roles, including under-17 head coach (2022-2023), under-17 lead assistant coach (2017-2018), under-16 head coach (2106) and under14/15 assistant coach (2014-2015).
Skeir joined Canada Basketball this past summer as manager for Canada’s under-16 women’s national team that captured silver at the FIBA Women’s Americas Championship.
She was a two-time Atlantic University Sport champion as a player at Cape Breton.
A National Certified Coaching Program certified coach, Skeir has completed Learn to Train, Train to Train and Train to Compete training.
Hoitink has been a driving force behind the exponential growth of both the boys’ and girls’ basketball programs at Morden Collegiate Thunder in Winnipeg over the past nine years.
As a coach, Hoitink has worked to establish a basketball culture with the Thunder that challenges each of her players to reach their potential both on the court and in life. Beyond Morden Collegiate, Hoitink tirelessly works to grow the game of basketball by organizing local development camps and girls’ club programs.
This past summer, Hoitink was Manitoba Basketball’s under-17 girls’ team assistant coach which competed at the Canada Basketball age class championship.
Hoitink has completed her Learn to Train, Train to Train and Train to Compete NCCP certification.
This award was inspired by James and Ruth MacKay, parents of Mike MacKay, who exemplified the qualities of transformational parenting and all the transformational coaches who’ve coached and worked with him throughout his coaching journey.
To be eligible, nominees must be at least 18 years of age, a resident of Canada (of at least 12 months), have started their basketball coaching pathway and will be completing or have completed at least one NCCP basketball training course, and must have coached for at least one year. Of the annual awards, one (1) will be specifically given to a female-identified coach working with female athletes.
The award is distributed through the Canada Basketball Foundation™, a registered charitable organization dedicated to unifying Canada as a basketball nation by supporting safe, equitable, and inclusive basketball programming.
Working directly with Canada Basketball, the Canada Basketball Foundation aims to remove access barriers in community organizations that focus on delivering programs related to coaching and officiating, leadership and skill development, and serving equity-deserving youth groups across Canada.
– Jalynn Skeir in front of a packed MWBA house with Halifax Hornets (DWinston Photo)