Capital District Cyclones assistant coach Genna Phelan shared the news of her team’s provincial championship win by phone late Sunday, March 18, and the feat seems fitting for her group as hosts of the 2012 Esso Cup.
When Phelan, 27, first received word that this year’s Esso Cup, Canada’s National Female Midget Championship, would be held in her hometown, Charlottetown, P.E.I., she was more than excited about the event.
“Things like this are going to help hockey players realize the talent that we actually have here on the island,” Phelan said. “And for the girls here (in P.E.I.), that playing for your home province is a big deal.”
A University of Prince Edward Island women’s hockey alumna, and a four-time MVP award winner of the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) team, Phelan knows all about what it’s like to represent your province and to compete nationally. She had the chance to do so in the very same tournament that she is now coaching in, on three separate occasions.
But when Phelan played at the tournament, it was in its previous format as the Esso Women’s National Hockey Championship, a tournament for senior players. The forward suited up for P.E.I.’s team in Sarnia, Ont., in 2005, Sydney, N.S., in 2006, and Salmon Arm, B.C., in 2007.
“We felt like we were in the big leagues,” Phelan, who was notorious for being a talented goal-scorer, reflected on her experiences. “We were facing some really good competition and everyone back home was following us and cheering for us.”
Fast-forward five years later and she hasn’t seemed to miss a beat, both on and off the ice. On her Island Women’s Hockey League squad, Phelan is paving the way on the leader boards, sitting at the top of the goal scoring and overall points categories.
Meanwhile, it’s her tenth year behind the bench, a career path that Phelan says opened up to her during her time as a UPEI student-athlete. Attending the local university gave her the chance to stay and play on the very island she grew up on.
“When they were able to get the program back here at UPEI, I was really excited that I could stay home and play,” Phelan said. “It meant so much more being an Islander, playing for an Island team.”
During her post-secondary studies, Phelan was required to complete volunteer hours. So she decided to help out with an Atom girls’ team, and hasn’t look back since, as her coaching career continues to unfold successfully.
“It’s definitely one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life,” Phelan said. “Coaching has opened up so many opportunities for me.”
Upon completion of her studies at UPEI, Phelan pursued her passion for sport by accepting a job at Special Olympics PEI, where she currently remains the organization’s program coordinator and youth development officer.
Among her many duties with Special Olympics PEI is running a variety of sports programs for its members, including, of course, floor hockey. It seems Phelan is never far away from the sport she loves.
With her long list of accomplishments in women’s hockey, Phelan once again has the chance to represent her province at the national level, and she’s thrilled to do so as assistant coach of the Capital District Cyclones at the 2012 Esso Cup.
“It’s a great honour to coach,” she said. “But to coach girls’ hockey is extra special.”