Growing up in PEI Hillary Pineau participated in soccer, hockey, and softball. She discovered softball at the age of 12 and competed at the grass roots level all the way through to national level competition. Taking on the role of apprentice coach at the 2022 Canada Games in Niagara Falls will not be Hillary’s first experience at the games, as she went as an athlete for Team PEI’s softball team back in 2013 when the games were held in Sherbrooke, Quebec.
Hillary kickstarted her coaching career immediately after graduating from high school. She had the unique opportunity to give back not only to her sport, but to the same team that she had just finished playing for, The Westisle Wolverines (her high school team). Taking over as the assistant coach, she helped her team win that year’s provincial championship, just one year after winning provincials as an athlete with the very same team. Hillary held her position as assistant coach for two years before taking a break from coaching in 2016 so that she could focus on establishing her career within the field of sport management. She recently returned to coaching as the assistant coach for the Fredericton Twins U16 girls’ softball team and is now looking to continue growing her experience as a coach through the 2022 Women in Coaching Canada Summer Games Apprenticeship Program.
Hillary’s coaching philosophy is based around her belief that a successful team is built on positive experiences had by the athletes. Additionally, she believes that those with knowledge have an obligation to pass it along to those who do not. These two concepts complement each other nicely. By ensuring that athletes enjoy their time as athletes, you are increasing the likelihood of them staying in their sport beyond their competitive careers. A positive sport experience also builds leaders, grows confidence, and instills sportsmanship and commitment; all critical components to achieving excellence in sport, and in life.
With the experience of the athlete in mind, Hillary leans toward a facilitative/democratic style of coaching. To her, it is important that the coach facilitates decision-making, and sets overall team goals, while also encouraging feedback, and input from the athletes. If athletes feel heard and are respected, they become more receptive, are willing to try new things, build confidence, and will be more likely to find success.
Before applying for the 2022 Women in Coaching Canada Summer Games Apprenticeship Program, Hillary was already unofficially assisting Team NB’s softball team as a volunteer. Now, through the apprenticeship program, she is an official member of Team NB’s coaching staff, is receiving professional development opportunities, and will be traveling with the team to Niagara Falls, Ontario this August. Hillary plans to build off her experiences this Summer by working towards her coaching certification, which she hopes to use towards coaching future NB Provincial Teams, as well as taking on an official coaching position heading into the 2025 Canada Games in St. Johns, N.L.