By Christie Melhorn, August 4, 2017 —
When he isn’t coaching the University of Calgary women’s soccer team, Troye Flannery leads the Calgary Foothills Women’s FC in the United Women’s Soccer league. On July 28, Flannery was named UWS West coach of the year — unsurprising, as the Dinos have consistently made the playoffs since Flannery became head coach in 2013. In 2015, the Dinos qualified for the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Championships for the third time in the team’s history and secured bronze at the Canada West Championships.
Despite the team’s early exit from the 2017 Canada West playoffs, Flannery says last season was full of highlights.
“It’s been rewarding watching our players get recognized,” Flannery said. “Last year, [third-year forward] Jordan Smith won Canada West All-Star. She was one of the first players I called back when I took the gig. Watching her grow as a player, battle academically and juggle so many things and to be recognized was special.”
Flannery says he is proud of the team for more than their on-field success.
“We’ve improved our plays and set a common goal,” he said. “I’m extremely proud of the program and how it represents the university, not just in the field but in the classroom and community as well.”
Due to other commitments, Flannery rejected the position of head coach when previous Dinos athletic director Ron Wuotila first approached him with the job.
“I think I said no three times,” Flannery said. “At the time I was coaching and consulting for Trinity West University part time. It was tough to leave. But he pulled on my heartstrings — told me about the young women in the program who I coached when they were younger. Initially, I said I’d do one to three years. And I haven’t looked back since.”
Flannery says he felt welcome in the Dinos community immediately after taking the role.
“The athletic department is full of support, U of C is a great school academically and Calgary is a great, vibrant city. There is a strong sense of pride associated with the university and Dinos athletics,” Flannery said.
As a coach, Flannery strives to push his players out of their comfort zones.
“The magic happens outside your comfort zone. A stronger sense of self-worth can help you take a leap of faith,” Flannery said. “We want these young women to be self-confident enough to go there. The pursuit of self is very important in the context of teams.”
While watching his players improve and develop, Flannery says he experienced considerable personal growth himself.
“I’ve learned a lot and I care immensely about the experience the student athlete is having. I’ve had to step out of my comfort zone to ask the student athletes about what they do or don’t like and be able to take some of the feedback,” Flannery said.
Flannery says that such a learning experience is full of highs and lows. The team suffered a disheartening loss in the first game of the playoffs, ending the 2016–17 season in disappointing fashion.
“I recognize that you can’t always get it right. Last year, we pushed too hard,” Flannery said. “We arguably had a better team and system than years before. But we probably put too much pressure on ourselves and the environment may have been too demanding.”
Flannery says celebrating success will be a main focus this season.
“We’re focusing on that fact that we’re a family and we want to celebrate our successes more rather than put them away quickly and shoot for the next one. It’s that support network where a lot of growth stems from,” Flannery said.
To foster that sense of support beyond the field, Flannery encourages all U of C students to engage with student athletes.
“We have a great group of student athletes. They represent U of C proudly,” Flannery said. “If you see them in the hallway, talk to them. They’re special kids and all have a backstory — some of those stories are incredible. We recruit based on good character before anything else.”
The women’s soccer team kicks off their season on Sept. 9 in Edmonton against the University of Alberta Pandas.