Meet Alixandra Khran!
Alix is one of the incredible coaches who was part of the Niagara 2022 Canada Games for the Manitoba women's volleyball team. She also led two of our coach apprentices from the Canada Games Women in Coaching Apprenticeship Program and the Canada Games Aboriginal Apprenticeship Coach Program!
After an amazing week of coaching at the Canada Games, we followed up with Alix and here is what she had to say about the program.
1. What does it mean to you to be a coach? Why is it important that the apprenticeship coaching program is offered?
This is a really big question. It means a lot to coach for a lot of different reasons. I think more than anything I enjoy the challenge that comes with working in a team environment.
Apprenticeship programs are necessary because of the ample evidence to suggest that sport coaching is not an equitable space. As it stands the system of sport, particularly at the high-performance level, privileges certain groups (e.g. white, able-bodied, upper class, cis-gender, male) and, in turn, provides opportunities to very few. We have to start somewhere and these programs can provide a critical first step. To be clear, much more work remains to be done in the system of sport!
2. Any highlights from the 2022 Canada Games?
Far too many to count. I think just getting to the Games was huge in light of COVID and the ways in which COVID extended and prolonged the Games process. Additionally, I would say getting to work with the staff (Charisse, Tanya, Gui, and Bryan) and the incredible group of athletes that made up our team - watching us come together on and off the court and ultimately win two gold medals - was pretty profound. Other amazing moments include a myriad of insider jokes that only our team understands, lots of laughter, and the incredible personal growth that I experienced this summer.
3. What encouraged you to get into coaching? Can you share a little bit about your coaching journey?
I got into coaching for a number of reasons (including to give back to the sport, understand the influence that sport could have in a person’s life, and to understand coaching better), but I think the number one reason was the hope of creating a well-rounded sporting experience for athletes where they felt safe, validated, supported, and where they could ultimately discover their own passions and dreams.
I think the spark to dive into coaching came from the very specific perceptions of coaching that I had. The assumptions that I had about coaching changed rapidly, as I realized sport coaching was much more complex than I had previously imagined. My curiosity to understand more about sport coaches (e.g. why they do what they do, how they use their positions of influence) alongside my experiences as a woman in sport, fuelled, and continues to fuel, the research that I do. I have always coached alongside my pursuit of academia (or maybe it’s the other way around--most days I don’t know), and that means I have had the opportunity to coach in my sport for over 10 years working as both a head coach and assistant coach within high school, club, provincial, and university sport settings. Most of my experience is in high-performance sport and I’m currently entering my 10th season as a university sport coach.
4. Anything else you would like to share?
My own research shows that much more remains to be understood about sport coaching as a job/career/occupation and/or profession and how these experiences are shaped by our intersecting identities. Experiences like the ones I had this summer with the Canada Summer Games continue to fuel my passion and drive to do research in the area of sport coaching and I’m looking forward to the next 10 years of sport coaching and sport coaching research!
We are so grateful for Alix and her hard work in sparking greatness amongst the next generation of athletes. Follow along this week on our Instagram as we celebrate all coaches making a difference in the lives of athletes.