Coaching Methods Yield New Beginnings For Falcons

A variety of coaching approaches is providing the Langara Falcons with a new start

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By KAREENA JASSAL

The Langara Falcons women’s basketball team is looking for a fresh start through a variety of coaching techniques and a focus on mental performance.

The Falcons women’s team lost both games during a two-game home stand versus Vancouver Island University Mariners last weekend. The Mariners defeated the Falcons 69-51 on Friday and 69-42 on Saturday, which was senior night.

The team, which is now 5-19 this season, has struggled the past few seasons.

Cameron MacGillivary, who was hired in 2022 and has spent 13 years in head and assistant coaching positions throughout Metro Vancouver, is introducing significant changes to the team’s training procedures.

First-year guard Avaani Pagely said MacGillivary makes players feel comfortable while encouraging them to strive for excellence.

“I felt well-utilized as a rookie this season,” Pagely said. “He also pushed us outside our comfort zones in practice to better us and create well-rounded players.”

Third-year guard Rachel Labrador said MacGillivary’s hiring helped her return to play following an injury.

“I would say I increased in my confidence on the court,” Labrador said.

Mental performance consultant helps players perform under pressure

MacGillivary introduced to the team Toby Kerr, a new mental performance consultant. Kerr meets with the players once a week for 20 to 30 minutes prior to Thursday practices. Kerr teaches players to use “visualization, scripts and self-talk” and encourages the players to perform under pressure by teaching them about “emotional regulation.”

“A high-pressure situation is what leads to performing best sometimes,” Kerr said. “You get in that zone by really embracing all the pressure in that moment.”

First-year guard Avaani Pagely praised Kerr for introducing to the team key concepts such as goal-setting and fixed-versus-growth mindsets.

“Toby had a great impact on the team,” Pagely said. “He was always available to talk with us, and he taught us many strategies this season.”

Virginia Watson was the Falcons head coach until MacGillivary was hired in 2022. As a coach, Watson attempts to improve practices by “creating a space where players feel comfortable talking to the coaches and to each other.”

Watson suggested there was conflict between players and coaches prior to her taking over as the coach.

“The culture was not very strong,” Watson said.

Watson, who supports the Falcons decision to bring in a mental performance consultant, said the team briefly worked with a mental coach during her tenure as coach.

“The kids really struggled with in-game mental toughness,” Watson said.

Players Respond Positively to Coaching System

MacGillivary has also implemented a mentorship system, which pairs newer players with veteran players. The system has improved the chemistry between players.

Pagely said the mentorship system is helping the players create a lasting bond on and off the court.

“At the beginning of the season and school year, it really helped to have this experienced person to go to for help and support when needed,” Pagely said.

Third-year guard Katelyn Lafleur said the mentorship system has helped players develop stronger relationships with each other.

“I think it’s been really effective,” Lafleur said.

Interview with Toby Kerr, mental performance coach for Langara Falcons women’s basketball. Video by Kareena Jassal

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