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Rebecca Russell leaving Clarenville Caribous bench

<p>9. <strong>Rebecca Russell becomes first female coach in NL senior league</strong></p>
<p>After the Clarenville Ford Caribous named Rebecca Russell as an associate coach, readers flocked to hear the details about her hockey resume and how it feels to become the first in the league to coach a senior men’s team.</p>
<p>To read the full article on The Packet website go to:</p>
<p><a href="http://www.thepacket.ca/Sports/2015-10-28/article-4324571/Rebecca-Russell-becomes-first-female-coach-in-NL-senior-league/1">http://www.thepacket.ca/Sports/2015-10-28/article-4324571/Rebecca-Russell-becomes-first-female-coach-in-NL-senior-league/1</a></p>
Rebecca Russell

“I just needed a break” says former head coach

The Clarenville Caribous won their second straight Central-West senior hockey championship in 2017-18. Members of the winning team are, from left, first row: trainer Jacob Nolan, Ryan Desrosiers, Kevin Reid, Tyler Whiffen, Kenny Mahoney, Rodney Mahoney, Andrew Smith, Chris Prior, Cody McNamara, Jordan Kennedy; back row: trainer Scott Maidment, therapist Patty Russell, Mike Dyke, Chris Sparkes, Mason Reid, Dustin Russell, Chad Earle, general manager Ivan Hapgood, Justin Pender, Josh St. George, Keith Delaney, Ryan Delaney, assistant coach Andrew Hapgood, head coach Rebecca Russell and trainer Ralph Payne. Missing from photo are Jason Churchill, Brad Crann, Brandon Roach and president Derek MacPhee.
The Clarenville Caribous won their second straight Central-West senior hockey championship in 2017-18. Members of the winning team are, from left, first row: trainer Jacob Nolan, Ryan Desrosiers, Kevin Reid, Tyler Whiffen, Kenny Mahoney, Rodney Mahoney, Andrew Smith, Chris Prior, Cody McNamara, Jordan Kennedy; back row: trainer Scott Maidment, therapist Patty Russell, Mike Dyke, Chris Sparkes, Mason Reid, Dustin Russell, Chad Earle, general manager Ivan Hapgood, Justin Pender, Josh St. George, Keith Delaney, Ryan Delaney, assistant coach Andrew Hapgood, head coach Rebecca Russell and trainer Ralph Payne. Missing from photo are Jason Churchill, Brad Crann, Brandon Roach and president Derek MacPhee.

Rebecca Russell will not be returning to coach the Clarenville Caribous this year.

“Obviously it wasn’t an easy decision. It’s still not,” Russell told The Packet on Friday, Oct. 19.

She says after three years of coaching the team, she simply needed a break.

“I own a family business now [ER Heating and Refrigeration Ltd.), and I’m still taking on a small role with minor hockey as well, and I’m a part of the Clarenville Fire Department, and a few other things,” she said. “ I felt like something had to give. I needed to step away from something for a little bit, and unfortunately the Caribous was the thing I felt I needed to take time away from at this moment.”

Russell says there have been a number of unforgettable moments over her years as coaching the ‘Bous; winning the Western championship in in Grand Falls in Game 7 in 2016; losing the 2017 Herder championship due to a controversial game-winning goal; and, above all, winning the 2018 Herder Memorial Trophy.

She made in history in Jan. 2016, when she was named Newfoundland and Labrador’s first female coach of a men’s senior team when she joined the Caribous.

“’There were a lot of people that supported me, and a lot of people were behind, me,” said Russell.

“If you’re right person, male or female, if you know the game of hockey, or whatever it is that you’re pursing, and you have knowledge and you’re confident in what it is that you’re doing, then obviously you can handle any position of authority or any other position your put into.”

She said that she even found a positive way to put to good use some of the negative things she heard over the past three years about a woman coaching a men’s team.

“Those people who were the doubters, and wrote things online, and those people that said things out load, and were pretty negative about it, I still have quotes from those people on my phone. I’d like to thank them to because they were a big part of my taking it on and putting in as much effort and time into it as I did,” she said.

Russell also gave thanks to a great deal of people.

“The players and the staff of the Caribous organization; they took a big chance, and probably took a little bit of a beating for hiring me… and for the boys, the men I had the opportunity to coach, they have been nothing but supportive of me since day one. They treated me like their coach, and I can’t thank them enough for that. They’ve given me some of my greatest hockey moments now to date,” she explained.

She also had words of thanks for the team’s fans.

“Those people are the reason we have a Caribous organization.”

“I can’t say thanks enough for supporting us day in and day out, whether that’s buying tickets or sending a message of encouragement.”

Although Russell will not be coaching this year, she says she has definitely not severed ties with the organization. She says she’s keeping an open line of communication with Caribous GM Ivan Hapgood.

But for now, Russell has taken a step back from senior hockey.

Meanwhile, GM Hapgood told the Packet on Oct. 19 the Caribous roster is not yet complete, but that it should be expected soon.

The team has not yet selected a coach to replace Russell, who wishes the team well.

“I hope they have a successful year, and the fans get another great year of hockey.”

Rebecca Russell

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mark.squibb@thepacket.ca

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