2023 nwu18c alberta coaches olfert kish

Alberta coaches come back to Dawson Creek

Having competed as players at the 2012 National Women’s Under-18 Championship, Jane Kish and Jessie Olfert are returning to Dawson Creek—this time as coaches with Team Alberta

Shannon Coulter
November 5, 2023

Jessie Olfert and Jane Kish can still remember the roar of the crowd when they stepped on the ice at the Ovintiv Events Centre. Hundreds of students cheering on British Columbia and Saskatchewan as the teams competed at the 2012 National Women’s Under-18 Championship.

“It’s the first time as a player that you’re experiencing a loud barn,” Olfert says. “Dawson Creek definitely showed up to fill the barn and cheer us on, which was pretty amazing.”

Eleven years later, Olfert and Kish are returning to the Peace Region—this time as members of the Alberta coaching staff. Although more than a decade has passed, the memories are still vivid for both ladies.

“I’m from Weyburn, Saskatchewan, originally, and then Dawson Creek had about around the same population,” Kish says. “I remember getting there and I was like, ‘This feels like a nice, close-knit community.’”

The quality of the hockey and the ability to connect with players from other provinces also stand out in their memories.

“It was the fastest hockey that I had played up to that point,” Olfert says. “I remember thinking, ‘This is so much fun. I want to find more ways that I can continue to be involved with this type of high-level game.’”

“The connections that I built and the experience that I had—it was very neat to be a part of,” Kish adds.

Action shots of Jessie Olfert (left) and Jane Kish (right) during the 2012 U18 Nationals

With that passion for high-level intensity hockey ignited in Dawson Creek, both Kish and Olfert pursued playing the game in university. Kish finished her career at the University of Regina as the all-time leader in wins (38) and shutouts (15). Olfert played at the University of Alberta for three years before she hung up her skates.

“I called a past coach of mine, who was a really big mentor in my life, and I asked her, ‘After you leave your sport, what do you do with your life?’ And she said, ‘You simply find another way to get involved in it.’”

For both Kish and Olfert, coaching was an excellent way to stay connected to the game they love in a new capacity. When Olfert made the decision not to play a fourth year with the Pandas, her coach Howie Draper helped her find her first coaching position to get her foot in the door.

After completing a kinesiology and education degree, Kish was thinking about balancing substitute teaching and goalie training after university when she was presented with the perfect job opportunity at the South Alberta Hockey Academy in Medicine Hat.

“It was the best of both worlds,” she says. “It’s allowed me to be an assistant coach and have my goalie stuff, but also doing all the fun teaching stuff in school.”

For Kish and Olfert, becoming a coach has been one of the best things that has helped the transition into life after playing high-level hockey.

“Ending the playing career, sometimes an athlete might get lost a little bit,” Olfert says. “It feels like a part of your life has kind of ended, which it has. So, harnessing all that energy into something else, that can be incredibly rewarding.”

“I love it because I’m learning every day,” Kish adds. “Seeing the sport in this light has been very cool for me because I’m like, ‘Oh my goodness, when I was a player, I didn’t even think about this.’ But now I’m seeing all these different things and it’s a different viewpoint. That has been very exciting for me.”

Jessie Olfert (left) and Jane Kish (right) in their 2012 headshots from the U18 Nationals

Despite competing against each other at U18 Nationals and in U SPORTS, Kish and Olfert didn’t officially meet until both were brought on to Alberta’s coaching staff ahead of the 2023 tournament. With the experience playing in the tournament themselves, it provides a unique perspective for coaching Alberta’s athletes.

“I remember going in there and being very nervous,” Kish says about playing in the tournament. “You want to do exceptionally well because you have all these expectations riding on you.”

“Sometimes I find your athletes forget that you had a childhood, that you grew up as well and you’ve been through some of these things,” Olfert adds. “They can look to you and be like, ‘What do we do here?’ And you actually have an answer because you know where their feet are, you know what’s going through their heads.”

The return to Dawson Creek for Kish and Olfert is full of nostalgia. It’s a familiar city, a familiar rink and a familiar schedule for what is in store for each team during the week. As two of 1,578 girls who have competed in this tournament since 2001, Kish and Olfert hope Team Alberta can embrace this opportunity and be truly present in this moment.

“This tournament is a reminder of what all these girls have gone through to get here. Now, they get to enjoy it and experience it just like Jessie and I did 11 years ago,” Kish says.

“Life has changed a lot in the last 11 years, but it’s also been a lot of really good changes and a lot of personal growth,” Olfert says. “This is really cool to have a full circle moment of returning back to Dawson Creek and getting to relive it, but in a very different way.”

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

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