Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Aiyanna Empringham, I am 21 from Sackville NS, and an athlete at Saint Mary’s for the Women’s Basketball Team. I am also the Canada Games Aboriginal Apprentice Coach for Basketball Nova Scotia’s Women’s Basketball team, and working through my train to compete certification. Growing up I played multiple sports, such as volleyball, track and field, soccer, badminton, etc. but basketball was always my passion and I fell in love with the game at an early age, as both of my parents played while I was young. I have spent majority of my life in a gym or on a court, and coaching brings me the same passion that I have for playing the game. I love helping athletes aspiring to get to the level I am competing at complete their goals, as well as teach them the skills that I was coached throughout the years. Giving back to the community is very important to me, and coaching allows me to give back to the community that got me to where I am now!
What is an issue or topic you are passionate about or would like to see changed?
I am very passionate about seeing more female coaches at higher levels. There are some that are there now, but seeing many more, especially on the female side of sport, shows young girls or women that there is the possibility of going further after the time of play is done, or that there is someone that looks like them or coaching them that understand their struggles. Another topic that I am very passionate about is diversity in coaching, especially on the ethnic side, for the same reasons above. Many people do not see coaches that look
like them in these positions, so it can be discouraging for some. Having the representation in these roles gives young people the opportunity to have a role model that may look like them, which I am passionate about in the coaching world.
What specific strategies would you like to see parents, coaches, or sport administrators do to improve diversity in sport or progress your cause?
The strategy that I would like to see more of is people being open to learning. Having the ability to be adaptive to athletes as well as adaptive with progressing times is a skill that is required to be successful, and being open to learning new things all around can give not only coaches, but individuals, the opportunity to have wider horizons, and education and knowledge is the biggest tool in this process. This can also progress from having options for education open, which I believe that in coaching should be mandatory coaching clinics, or even different tools for coaches, parents, or sports administrators to have, so they can spread the knowledge that they are learning more.
What is your favourite leadership quote?
I have multiple favourite leadership quotes that I look back to over time, many from female activists and coaches. Some of these include:
“There’s a moment where you have to choose whether to be silent or stand up” – Malala Yousafzai
“Throw away those books and cassettes on inspirational leadership. Know your job, set a good example for the people under you. That’s all the charisma you’ll really need to succeed” – Pat Summitt
“Well, the first quality of being a good leader is you have to be able to follow. See, a good leader can’t just be a leader all the time, I have to be able to follow” – Lisa Leslie
These three quotes I use in life, not only in sport. Living by setting a good example and speaking to my beliefs and opinions is something I stand by, and encourage females especially to do.
One book that I can always go back to is a book that was given to me on a recruiting trip titled Mind Gym.
The book talks about the mental aspects of being an athlete, which I believe is a very important aspect in sport that is just beginning to be talked about more. Mental health and wellness is something I am very passionate about as well, and this book discusses tools and different approaches that can help athletes get to the best mental performance spots they can be in, as well as be mentally well.
The book can be found on Amazon for a paperback copy as well as an ebook HERE.