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From hobby to career: How Mohawk’s curling coach Betty Calic found a passion for mentoring

What started as a hobby quickly turned into a successful career for the head coach of the Mohawk College curling team, Betty Calic.

“I came upon coaching a little bit by accident,” Calic said. “I started to learn the sport and the curling manager at the club I used to be at said one of the best ways to become a better player is to take coaching courses, because in coaching courses they will teach you the proper delivery, the proper sweeping techniques and the fundamentals of the game at a slightly higher level.”

The same manager was once the head coach of the Mohawk College curling team and offered Calic the position of assistant coach. A year later, he retired and recommended that Calic take over his role.

Now, with 15 years of experience in coaching curling under her belt, Calic is still looking for ways to improve.

“I’ve always been someone who’s never kind of left it just there,” she said. “I’m always reading, I belong to different coaching associations and there’s always something new that’s coming out. So it’s an ongoing process. It never ends, the sport evolves just like any sport evolves.”

Mountaineer curler Eric Just knew Calic long before she became his coach. The two met at the Dundas Valley Golf and Curling Club as members years before Just enrolled at Mohawk.

“I knew her before I actually got recruited to the team and I always knew her as a very involved individual at the club,” Just said. “She was always running leagues and was always huge into curling.”

Once Calic realized Just had enrolled at Mohawk, she reached out to recruit him to the mixed doubles team. Just said his experience with Calic as his coach has been positive.

“She has a very great way of being both there for you but also there for the team as a collective, so ensuring that she’s bringing the four best people on the ice in the right position, but also showing care for you individually, so she has a really great balance of that,” Just said.

When it comes to her approach to coaching varsity athletics, Calic said she takes inspiration from a quote from a famous coach.

“Tom Landry was the longtime coach for the Dallas Cowboys football team way back in the day, and I thought he summed it up the best and this is what his definition of a coach is,” Calic said. “‘A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has to see what you don’t want to see, so that you can be who you’ve always known you could be.’”

“I really appreciated Tom Landry’s perspective on that, because that exactly sums up what our job is,” she continued. “You watch, you educate and you try to make your athlete the best athlete they can be because that’s the job. That’s the way I’ve always looked at it.”

Mountaineer curler Joel Matthews described Calic’s coaching style as motivational, going on to remember a moment the team shared with their coach.

“She’s great at the pre-game speech to kind of hype us up and get us focused,” Matthews said. “She’s always been good with words that way.”

“I remember in Sault Ste. Marie, two years ago when we won OCAAs, after the last shot had finished, I remember Betty coming out on the ice and embracing all of us in our celebration of winning, and that was a really special moment,” Matthews added.

Calic said her goal for each season varies from team to team based on skill level.

“The men’s team, they’re working towards reaching their goals,” Calic said. “They want to win their third gold at OCAAs, but the goal this year is that they want to win gold at Nationals.”

“The ladies team, they’re all brand new curlers …. their goals are slightly different,” Calic explained. “Their goals are first of all, to learn the sport, and as everybody will tell you, it looks easy, but it’s not.”

“The mixed doubles team, I think they would like to medal,” she added.

When it comes to the goals Calic has set for herself as a coach, she said the most important thing to her is to help her athletes improve, no matter where or how.

“My goal as a coach has always been that [the players] leave with a little more than they come with,” Calic said. “Either they leave with a little better insight into themselves, they leave with a better technique or they leave with a winning attitude. As long as they go away with something they didn’t come with, I think I’ve done my job.”


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