Michelle Abella – Interview


Michelle Abella is a basketball coach from Canada and is ready to take the next step in her evolving coaching career as she begins the Female Coach Apprentice Programme with the Canadian Collegiate Athletics Association.

Already a certified Level 2 coach, Abella returns to Mohawk College (Canada) this season as an apprentice. The former Mountaineer Rookie of the Year also played varsity basketball for the Sheridan Bruins in the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association:

?An opportunity such as this will serve as a key stepping-stone into another role,? said Abella. ?Coaching at a high level will allow me to improve on my current skill set and will help me to learn new ones.?

Michelle took time out to chat with the FCN and share her story and tell us about her ambitions for her coaching career…



Can you remember your first ever coaching experience?

Of course, I remember my first experience as a head coach. I was coaching a junior girls high school team at the time and I remember the first tryout and first game. During the 90 minute tryout, the girls worked and fought hard to make the team. I was so excited and felt so privileged to be the head coach for this team as the girls progressed during the season. We lost in semis but the sense of accomplishment watching those girls succeed and not only get better as a team, but also individually was a great feeling. Since then I’ve grown in every aspect as a coach. Every time I’ve stepped onto the court or watched from the sidelines, I’ve learned something new. Learning never stops and being a lot more open minded has been something I’ve grown accustomed to.


Did you have any female role models as a young girl?

Growing up, I believe the biggest female sporting role model that I had was a teacher/coach I had in high school. She cared, saw the good in everyone, help people become a better person and just overall had such a positive outlook on everything. Without her, I would not have as much confidence in myself not only as a coach, but overall. She was the person that inspired me to one day become a coach.


Do you see yourself as a role model to your athletes?

Growing up as the oldest of four girls and now coaching, I would say I see myself as a role model. As a coach, your athletes look to you for guidance to help them get to places they believe they cannot get to themselves. Attributes that are important to being a role model are being positive, optimistic, passionate and committed to whatever you are doing. I plan on carrying out these attributes by simply being there for my athletes when they need and always have a positive attitude and outlook on life. Show I am committed to them and they will do the same.


What advice would you give to other female coaches wanting to progress in their career?

Take any opportunity to coach that you can because you never know where it will lead you. There is nothing more important than your time. Go to coaching clinics, watch practices, volunteer at camps or be a part of elite development programs. Always be open to learning new things and ways that other successful coaches have done things because the game of basketball is always changing and adjustments are made constantly. You’re going to make mistakes but like I tell all my players, your mistakes are your best teacher. Don’t dwell on something that you cannot change or regret doing or not doing, learn from that experience and adjust to it. Be excited to learn and soak up all that you can from your journey.


What are you hoping to learn from your experience on the Female Coach Apprentice Program?

I believe coaching with Kevin Duffy at Mohawk College through the FACP will be nothing but beneficial. Kevin has been a mentor to me for years, he’s taught me not only how to become a better athlete but most importantly a better person. The knowledge I will gain on how to run a post secondary program through him will overall make me a better coach. By working in this program, I hope to not only gain coaching experience at a higher level, but also gain more knowledge about the game. Being a part of the women’s basketball program at Mohawk College will be something I am looking forward too.


In your opinion, what are the 3 most important things a coach can do to help their athletes succeed?

  • Time

  • Showing them that you care and believe in them

  • Knowing how to communicate your message to each individual?

Taking the time to help them become a better person/athlete is very important. Every little bit will matter, whether it be to go to practice early or stay later to give them feedback or do extra drills to help them. Giving the athlete your time will show them that you do care and you do believe in them. When the athlete knows you believe in them that gives them confidence and motivation to become better. When you take the time to get to know your athlete, you’ll find out the best way to communicate your message to them. It’s not about how much you tell them its how effectively you can get your message across for them to be successful because every athlete is different.


What do you hope to achieve in your future career?

I hope to continue my coaching career, as well as give back to the game of basketball any way that I can. I hope that in the future, I am able to inspire and help develop players to the best of their ability so that if they do want to pursue basketball, they are able to fulfill their dreams. I also hope that I am able to develop my own coaching skills and bring them to the game to make my future team and players successful.