Builders of the Program

Alison (centre)

Alison Gill

“I was so lucky to come into a program that had such [high-quality] people…And now they’re [our students] are trying to go out and role model the same thing – being good at their jobs, but in the end, being good people.”

Alison gill

Selling the Coaching Diploma

Alison came to Douglas in 1994. She started as a contract instructor in the SPSC (then PE) department before eventually becoming a full-time faculty member. When she began, Alison taught two courses, and was the head coach for the Douglas women’s basketball team.

When Alison came to the College, the SPSC department was just underway in mapping out the Coaching Diploma program – one of the first post-secondary coaching-specific programs to be created in Canada. Alison joined the designing process and became the program coordinator for the Coaching Diploma after its establishment.

As part of its curriculum, the Diploma required students to complete a period of preceptorship: this component was essentially the equivalent of Fieldwork in the current BPEC degree, except it was double the time, credits, and was coaching-only. As the coordinator, one of Alison’s roles was to find sites and coaches that would take on the program’s students for preceptorship. She networked extensively, phoning the provincial and national organizations for every sport imaginable to arrange placements for students in their respective sports. Apart from the range of sports she had to cover, Alison worked hard to convince organizations to give the Diploma a chance; this was an especially challenging task in the earlier days, as the Diploma and the College were only starting to build their names within the community.

“It could’ve been curling, hockey, rhythmic gymnastics, downhill skiing…boy oh boy, I had to network a lot in order to get students placed [laughs].”

alison, on the earlier days of arranging coaching diploma placements

Alison fondly remembers the days of the Coaching Diploma, where the faculty members and the students were very closely knit because of the small cohort the program admitted each year (only 20 people):

“The [Coaching Diploma] program was just…one of the highlights of my teaching [career] at Douglas College.”

The Coaching Diploma program merged into the SPSC Diploma program in 1999, as its 20-person limit was ultimately deemed unsustainable in the face of increasing enrollment demand. When the BPEC degree was established in 2007, Alison took on the role of coordinator for BPEC Fieldwork – reminiscent of her days as the coordinator of the Coaching Diploma.

Read more on how the Coaching Diploma, one of the department’s most innovative achievements, came to fruition here.

Starting the Student Council

Alongside in-class learning, Alison strongly believes that experiences beyond the classroom are critical to fostering the relationships students have with each other and with the faculty.

In reflection of this belief, she spearheaded the creation of the SPSC student council at Douglas College in the 2000s. The council organized many events to promote relationship-building, including noon-hour activities such as friendly competition between the faculty and students, or attending conferences that engaged topics of physical education. It still runs strong today.

Giving Back to Students

The SPSC faculty offers many different awards and scholarships for students, a variety of which is made possible by the donations of faculty members.

Inspired by Tim, who started several awards and scholarships at Douglas, Alison established her own: the JJ and Ann Kent Coaching Award. The Award, in memory of her late parents, is meant to be a gesture of the faculty’s support and encouragement to the students in the SPSC program. As Alison says:

“It’s so far beyond academics. We [everyone in SPSC] are a family, and we see students struggling [in various circumstances]…It’s just one of those things, and as a faculty we could help students get access to courses…[so they can] then go out and be really strong advocates in physical education or coaching.”

alison, on starting the JJ & Ann Kent coaching award

Read more about the JJ & Ann Kent Coaching Award here. Alison’s main source of inspiration, the Mary and Tony Frick Memorial Scholarship (started by Tim), can also be found on the same page.

Alison left the College in December 2020, just recently starting her days of retirement.

“They [the faculty members] really went beyond the academics…building Douglas College and building the students…And, holy smokes – if I could say that was something I was slightly be able to do, like Gert and Tim and all my mentors, I would just be so proud. ”

Alison, on her time at Douglas College