A new era in athletics

New high-performance vision in place for Mountaineer athletics after rebuild

Published in Momentum Fall 2021

Mohawk College Athletics has undergone a transformation in its coaching ranks, hiring prominent coaches in the community—many with national and international experience—to lead its teams into the new era.

“When I came to Mohawk two years ago, there were very few female leaders and role models,” said Matt Ferreira, Director of Athletics & Recreation.

“It was time for a rebuild.”

That rebuild included shifting the culture of Mohawk College Athletics into an era modelled after the catchy and motivating acronym of G.R.I.T. (Grit, Resilience, Initiative and Tenacity) to attract the best coaches and athletes available for the varsity program.

Some of the programs required entire new coaching staffs to align with Ferreira’s new high-performance vision. His focus shifted to the recruiting and hiring of high-performance individuals with historic playing and coaching backgrounds to lead Mountaineer squads. These coaches bring a winning attitude and wealth of knowledge of their sport, and are firmly engrained in community sports programs.

“Those who run club programs or have deep connections into clubs reach the best young athletes and will wear a Mohawk College recruiting hat. When academic interests align, athletes will follow a great coach.”

Among the talent the Athletic department has brought on board is Taylor Brisebois, an assistant volleyball coach, who won an OUA championship with McMaster University and was also named an OUA all-star during her time with the Marauders. Following her collegiate career, Brisebois headed to Europe where she played three pro seasons in Sweden, Denmark and Germany.

She was recently named to the Coach 2 Coach Mentorship Program, a prestigious OCAA coach development initiative.

Another recent addition is women’s basketball head coach Hali Burns, who has an extensive coaching resume, including serving as an assistant coach at University of Toronto-Mississauga, Team Ontario, and with the Kia Nurse elite under-16 team.

Burns earned all-star honours in both provincial and national championships as a player with Sheridan College. She was also an OCAA league scoring champion.

One coach Ferreira retained when he came to Mohawk was men’s curling coach Betty Calic, one of the few women to head a men’s college team in the country. Under her leadership, the Mountaineers curling program has won four OCAA medals since 2010.

“She is one of the most talented and determined coaches in the country.”

Ferreira stresses that the high-performance approach extends beyond the field of play and into administration and support staff. That includes varsity academic coach Ray Williams, facilities representative Erica Hubert, and Danielle Brisebois, who is varsity home game operations lead. All three women had highly successful athletic careers of their own.

Ferreira came to Mohawk by way of Humber College, where he was head baseball coach and served as a manager of athletics and community engagement.

He was a collegiate athlete on scholarship at both Western Texas College and Southwestern Oklahoma State University.

When the pandemic put a halt to games for the 2020 season, Ferreira invested his time into developing performance indicators, including retention and graduation rates (setting a target of at least 90 per cent), podium relevance, community impact and leadership development.

With the right structure, talent and mindset, Ferreira says Mohawk will be poised to win its fair share of provincial and national championships.

“It’s a new era of Mountaineer Athletics.”


All-female coaching squad leads Mountaineer softball team

The Mohawk Mountaineers women’s softball team hit the field for 2021 under the direction of three female coaches: co-head coaches Erin Forman and Logan White, and assistant coach Taylor Robblee.

As far as director of athletic and recreation Matt Ferreira knows, it’s the only all-female coaching staff in the province and possibly nationally.

All three come to Mohawk with U.S. collegiate playing pedigrees and the two head coaches are in their respective schools’ sports hall of fame. Both also played for Team Canada.

“When it comes to recruiting, when a player googles a coach and sees hall of fame credentials, there is not much of a sales pitch that has to happen after that,” said Ferreira.

Like Mohawk’s other teams, it has been a long break from the field for the softball players. The coaching staff added six recruits in the off-season, and we can’t wait to see how this new squad and staff represent Mohawk in 2021.

Photo caption: Satbir Singh, Sports Information Coordinator; Matt Schnarr, Supervisor, Varsity & Community Engagement; Matt Ferreira, Director, Athletics & Recreation; Ray Williams, Varsity Academic Coach.
Missing from photo: Brittany Galan, Athletic Therapist; Danielle Brisebois, Varsity Home Game Representative; Chad Van Dyk, Supervisor, Athletic Facilities; Erica Hubert, Facilities Evenings and Weekends Representative; Colin Beam, Facilities Evenings and Weekends Representative