Just recently, Sara Restani left her job in the corporate world and traded it in for a passion-fuelled career in the sport industry. Now, the Kidsport Ontario Program Manager and community field hockey coach gets the opportunity to fully commit to her love of sport on and off the field. Field Hockey Canada is excited to announce that Restani is the recipient of the 2020 Female Grassroots Coaching Award.
Currently, Restani lives in Burlington, Ontario and coaches with Halton Field Hockey Club, where she has been involved as a player and a volunteer since 2000. Like many before her, she was hanging around pitch-side in 2009 supporting her daughters and was ‘voluntold’ to give coaching a try. And like many, she fell in love with coaching instantly.
“It sounds cheesy, but it really was ‘love at first practice,’” Restani said. “I remember what it was like to get my first stick. I just want other people to experience that. I love seeing a kid who wants to learn.”
Since that first taste, Restani has upped her coaching experience over the past decade. She has taken professional development opportunities including the NCCP coaching courses and is currently competition-introduction certified. Restani is involved with Halton FHC in all facets and relishes being a part of the local community.
“I love that field hockey is different and unique,” she said. “The sport binds us and it is what makes our community so special. Being involved as a coach gives me the chance to make connections in our community that I might not have had that chance to. There’s a sense of being part of something bigger.”
Restani sees the community coaching level as a vital staple in developing athletes nation-wide. She understands they won’t get the same amount of ‘glory’ as high performance coaches but believes they should be valued equally and be given the support and resources to improve, grow and stay involved.
“Community coaches really are the bedrock of sport,” Restani said. “Without community coaches, that elite athlete may not even have been exposed to the sport. We wouldn’t have a high-performance program or nationals without our community coaches.”
Sara Restani is involved at all levels including the introduction of the sport to kids. Photos/Contributed.
Through her various roles and responsibilities in the sport world, Restani also wants to set a good example and encourage more women to get involved with coaching. She said there’s an opportunity to change the narrative about women coaches, by showing it as a great way to develop personally and professionally, while giving back.
“I wish more women could see [community coaching] as a viable route. I’m going to be here anyway, and I want to explore, ‘what can I get out of coaching? How can I use this opportunity to make my personal life more fulfilling?’” Restani adds that getting more women involved in a coaching capacity at a younger age will help set an example for future generations.
Restani was shell-shocked and appreciative to be a coaching award winner this year. She hopes that bringing more attention to community coaches will open up more opportunities in the future.
Congratulations Sara. Thank you for the work you do in the community!
The Field Hockey Canada Coach Award program is supported by Gryphon Hockey