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The Importance of Creating Authentic Connections, with Carla MacLeod

By The Coaches Site, 02/01/24, 3:45PM CST


Since the Czechia’s National Women’s team began playing in the World Championship in 1999, the team has medaled twice: in 2022 & 2023. Those are the first medals in the history of Czechia’s National Women’s team program. 

What’s significant about that is those are the first two seasons the team has played under Head Coach Carla MacLeod. What’s the secret to such an impressive turnaround on the world stage? Being authentic.

MacLeod, who is also the Head Coach of the University of Calgary Women’s program, did not take over the job with Czechia and begin ruling with an iron fist – quite the opposite, in fact. She assessed the team and took time to let her players know what their individual strengths are and reinforced their value to the team. 

Now some of you are reading this and shaking your head thinking such low hanging communication shouldn’t be necessary at such a high level of hockey, but MacLeod said the respect she earned and buy-in from her players was automatic.

Being authentic, to MacLeod, means asking players straight up what they need from the coaching staff in order to be successful. The response she got from over 80 percent of her team was honest communication and feeling respected. This gave MacLeod a glimpse into how the team had been run prior to her arrival and reinforced that it wasn’t necessarily going to be about what she was teaching, but how she was teaching it.

The 41-year-old from Spruce Grove, Alberta, who played defence for Canada’s National Women’s team for five seasons capturing two Olympic gold medals and is now a member of the University of Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame, as well as the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame, goes on discuss how little things like coaches eating meals with players, or relaxing as peers on off days, can create authentic bonds between players and staff. 

Coaches need both focus and fun to be successful, not just one or the other, as you’ll learn in MacLeod’s presentation.

Become a member of The Coaches Site to watch the entire presentation, along with 500+ hours of video from hockey’s top coaches, leaders and performance experts.