My name is Hannah Shields; yes, that’s right, another Shields. I am the youngest Shields involved in the creation of The First Lap. I have coached for the past eight years in multiple sports and people ranging in ages from 5 to 75. Most of my experience is in-person group coaching. I am excited to have a new method to add to my coaching experience.
I still train as a competitive athlete and enjoy my daily life doing so. I am a seasonal athlete; that is to say, if there is good snow, I will ski. Otherwise, I’m running.
Spending most of my life observing and participating in sports, I've sadly seen a massive lack of enjoyment and engagement from both athletes and coaches. Wanting to avoid my personal enjoyment of sport being skewed by an incessant focus on competing, I have kept that portion of my sporting career fairly small. Splitting my interests between coaching and being a competitive athlete, allows for a balance that keeps a sparkle in my eye :) As a coach, I've seen how people value coaching which matches the original intent of sport - moving your body within the rules of a given sport because it’s fun. When people open up to the fun of training and working hard, that is when I think sport has done its job.
I’ve been an assistant coach in cross-country skiing for 8 years. Additionally, I’ve coached soccer, running, and orienteering.
Athletic: Coaching Philosophy:
Like a video game, we start on level one without the specific skills we need to play the game. We gain specific skills and accumulate differently in-game abilities as we make our way through the levels. Once we have the skills to play the game, it makes the game far more enjoyable. Maybe we unlocked mystery levels we didn’t even know were going to be part of the game. You don’t have to make it to the last level for the game to have been worth your time. Did you gain the competence to play? Did you have fun playing? Did you develop skills that you can use when you start a new game?
Participating in sports is similar. If we spend focused time playing/training, we gain specific sports competence, we have more fun, and we develop skills we can apply elsewhere.
A sports highlight:
My very first 10km skate mass start. I had expectations and anticipation. I would say I exceeded expectations, and I am anticipating the next time I finish a race that I feel as happy about as I did for that race.
The first time I remember being called a “tryhard”. Ever since then I’ve wondered why that was an insult. Although intended as an insult I didn’t take it that way. Is that not the whole point? There is a balance between trying hard and being relaxed about what you’re doing as an athlete. It became an indicator in the groups I coached. Being capable to flip a switch, bounce back and forth at the appropriate moments, seems to result in a quicker progression in skills and ability, and an overall happier participant.
When I played soccer I was called up a couple of times to play on an older team. One time I was called on short notice and had to rush over to the soccer park. I had to learn names and figure out where I fit in, all very quickly. I remember having so much fun that day! I was played for lot of the game, I scored 3 or 4 goals, super exciting at the time. That experience gave me a lot of confidence. Go for it, don’t be intimidated, have fun, and try hard. You may think you’re out of your depth, but if you participate with confidence, you may find out you are more capable than people you looked up to.
My favourite number came from that day. Since I was called up I had to change my number, number 8. I could go with 18 or 81. I picked 81 and that’s been my favourite number ever since.
I think I have to ask athletes I’ve coached that question. But every time I hand out a pole to someone who has broken one of theirs or hand out any equipment. At practice or races, it doesn’t matter, that makes me feel super useful!
Favourite place to ski:
I have a soft spot for Lappe Nordic in Thunder Bay, ON. The trails where I relearned how to enjoy skiing. I’ve skied the most kilometres at Lappe so familiarly plays a part.
Favourite race distance and why?:
The shorter the sprint the better! I also enjoy 10km skate mass starts. Big fan of anything mass start.
Provincially - O-Cup Leader for two seasons in a row - the only seasons I raced the O-Cup circuit
Nationally - 3-time Nationals Team Sprint medalist - 1-time Champion, 2-time runner up
Currently Residing (City/town) - Gatineau, QC
Hometown - Kitchener-Waterloo
Original Ski Club - Waterloo Region Nordic Sports Club & Lappe Nordic
Years in Sport - 20+
Other sports and activities: Childhood - Soccer, Horseback Riding. Current - Running