Baseball Canada announces new women in coaching program

Coaches from across the country will receive free training and networking opportunities

3 min read
caption Jen Donaldson and players from the Nova Scotia Monarchs Baseball - Women's Division league at practice. Donaldson is a participant in Baseball Canada's women in coaching program, and was key in establishing Nova Scotia's first all-women's baseball league.
Jen Donaldson

By the time Glenna Ingraham coached her first all-girls baseball team, the North Nova Highlanders in 2019, she had 15 years of coaching experience in co-ed and youth baseball.

“I was hooked when I stepped back on that field,” said Ingraham. She realized then she needed to “keep this going.”

Five years later, Ingraham is one of 122 participants in Baseball Canada’s new women in coaching program.

The program, announced in late December, gives female baseball coaches across the country opportunities to get their training certifications and network.

By creating space for female coaches to learn and grow, they can empower the next generation of female athletes, said Megan Cundari, program co-ordinator for Baseball Canada.

“Going into it, we were super unaware of how many participants we would get. I was hoping to have 50 coaches apply,” she said.

The six-month program started in January and is divided into three cohorts. The third cohort is the largest, with 86 coaches. All participants can take part in free National Coaching Certification Program clinics, which are run by female coach developers. Of the 150 developers in the country, six are women, said Cundari.

Participants in cohort one and two take part in monthly leadership sessions and peer mentorship sessions with other coaches. Cohort three is mostly an opportunity to network.

Cundari said she has already seen the program develop into further participation rates for girls and baseball.

“A lot of the coaches that are in the program don’t just want to go and coach boys baseball, or coach a co-ed team,” said Cundari. “They want to start a female team and they want to build a girls-only program in their town.”

Ingraham, who is in cohort two, said she was honoured to be selected for the program.

After her first year coaching the North Nova girls team, Ingraham could see the difference having a female coach made. The players said they didn’t get the same opportunities playing on a boys team – something that isn’t uncommon for girls and women in baseball.

Ingraham said she had one girl who loves to pitch, but wasn’t considered good enough on a boys team.

“She was a fabulous pitcher,” said Ingraham. “She was my starter.”

Having fun a priority

This made Ingraham want to ensure her team has fun. In the off-season, players took part in activities such as dance parties, sledding and axe-throwing. Some team members also engaged in fundraisers and volunteer work.

“I want them to grow not just in the baseball program, but as individuals, and as a team, as a community member,” she said.

Jen Donaldson, who is also in cohort two, has coached baseball for 16 years. She was a leader in forming Nova Scotia Monarchs Baseball – Women’s Division, the first all-women’s baseball league in the province.

She said she started coaching her daughter at four years old because wanted her daughter to have a female role model.

 “Through probably 14 of those years, I was the only other female head coach in any of the leagues that I coached,” she said.

Donaldson said she’s excited to see so many women in the program, because she hasn’t seen them on the field.

“Where are these people?” she asked. “The reason they’re not out there is because they’re not trained, they’re not certified.”

One of the reasons for this, said Donaldson, is women who aspire to coach may not have the confidence to attend training that’s male-led or male dominated. Now they have an opportunity to train among women.

Female baseball will be a sport for the first time at the 2025 Canada Games, the highest level of sport competition for athletes in the nation.

Cundari hopes Baseball Canada’s women in coaching program can have a “trickle-down effect” on female coaches and players in baseball.

“We provide an opportunity for female coaches to learn, which then develops girls in baseball and helps us as well as an organization, right? We want to support girls and women and baseball.”

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