Hockey Talk

Rebecca Johnston’s Medal Winning Career

Rebecca Johnston, Calgary Inferno, Team Canada, Ice Hockey
Rebecca Johnston

Calgary Inferno and Team Canada’s Rebecca Johnston shares her journey to the Olympics, overcoming injuries and what she needs from a coach, plus Coach Shannon Miller’s attention to planning and importance of empowerment

Hockey Talk, hosted by Shannon Miller, is sponsored by INSTAT.

Podcast length: 28′ 07″

On this week’s show Shannon covers a range of topics for coaches including planning training and games, discrimination in the coaching profession, using positions of power to empower others.  Her guest is one of her key players at Calgary Inferno’s, Rebecca Johnston whom she describes as an ‘elite athlete that possesses the skills and leadership abilities to empower others, and one of our best players.’  Rebecca is a three-time Olympian — double gold medalist —and has also played in nine World Championships for Canada.

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Coaching Daily

  • each day planning and preparation matters – you properly prepare bc each day, you are attempting to build champions
  • You develop a plan, you carefully lay a solid foundation, and then you methodically and responsibly build on it
  • as coaches we must challenge our athletes daily, weekly and at every chance we get for competition in order to excel.
  • we ALL must seek opportunities to improve – that must be the attitude of the coaches, the athletes and the support staff
  • preparation is key – at times you need relentless preparation – deliberate and determined preparation
  • it’s a long and patient process – long term planning – one step at a time
  • MLK Jr “Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”
  • This is exactly what the process is like. Trust in the process and take it a day at a time.

Doing an honest, self-analysis daily, weekly, after a series of games if very important – What do we do well? What do we do poorly?

  • How do we go about the business of improving in all areas?
  • This takes honest reflection, attention to details, and very importantly, efficient use of time!
  • Planning is very time consuming, but critical – and develop a plan that is resilient but flexible.
  • Resilience is important – coaches and athletes must be mentally prepared to handle the grind, the obstacles, the set backs, and the successes.
  • Coaches – we have to be able to DISCIPLINE, MOTIVATE and TEACH to get players to produce – ALL THREE are necessary
  • Tempo is important – Coaches dictate tempo in practice and in games; the strength coach dictates tempo during off ice workouts. Leaders within the team and team sparkplugs should always help dictate tempo – in all aspects of training and competing.

SIDE BAR – Discrimination in the coaching profession.

There are women coaches all around the world who are experiencing various forms of discrimination, and I am speaking with each one of them on my mind.

  • There are double standards in the coaching world for women and men, and it must change – men and women must work together to create that change.
  • Women coaches are expected to conform to certain gender roles based on what an AD thinks is appropriate.
  • Women have to work harder and achieve more in order to be perceived to be as competent as a man.
  • Women get left out of meetings, social events, becoming frustrated, tired and feeling pushed out.
  • Women get harassed and disrespected.
  • Sexism happens across many industries – many courageous women are bringing national attention to Gender Equity, Equal Pay and Fair Treatment. Join those women. Support those women. Have the courage to be part of creating positive change.

Using Power to Empower:

**Wise leaders lose their taste for having power over anyone and instead make it their mission to empower others.

  • As a coach, you must park your ego….you must be selfless and authentic.
  • Bench your ego as a coach. Bench your ego as a player.  
  • Build your mental strength up as a coach and as a player so you can park your ego, block out distractions and get in sync with one another.
  • Use your strengths, your skills and your influence to empower others.

Rebecca’s Bio

A member of Canada’s National Women’s Team since 2007, Rebecca Johnston has competed at eight IIHF Women’s World Championships as well as three Olympic Winter Games, helping Canada win gold at Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014 as well as a silver at PyeongChang 2018 where she was among the team’s leading scorers. After not being selected to the final roster in 2007, Johnston made her world championship debut in 2008.

In her eight career appearances she has won seven silver medals to go with the gold medal in 2012. At the 2011 World Championship she led the Canadian team in scoring with four goals and two assists and was one of Canada’s top three players as selected by the coaches. She was also Canada’s top scorer at the 2016 World Championships with two goals and five assists and was named to the Media All-Star Team.

Johnston’s collegiate career took her to Cornell University. In 2007-08 she was the Ivy League Rookie of the Year. As a sophomore she was a top-10 finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award as the top female player in NCAA hockey. After spending 2009-10 centralized with the national team, she returned to school and led Cornell to the NCAA Frozen Four and was a top-10 finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award in both 2010-11 and 2011-12. After graduation Johnston was drafted by the Toronto Furies of the CWHL and led them to the Clarkson Cup playoffs in 2012-13.

The following season she began playing with the Calgary Inferno and led the league in scoring to win the Angela James Bowl and CWHL MVP. Johnston missed most of 2015-16 due to back and hip issues, undergoing therapy to strengthen her hypermobile ligaments. Frustrated with watching the games from the stands, she focused on her rehab and returned in time to help the Inferno win the Clarkson Cup. Johnston and the Inferno made it back to the Clarkson Cup final in 2016-17.

Getting into the Sport: Started playing hockey at age four… Wanted to play because her father and siblings all played…

Outside Interests: Enjoys reading… Used to have a part time job with the London Health Science Foundation… Earned her degree in communications from Cornell University…

Odds and Ends: Had her Olympic dream sparked by seeing the women’s and men’s hockey teams win gold at Salt Lake City 2002 after entering the Games not as the favourites…

Career Highlights

Olympic Winter Games:

2018 – SILVER;

2014 – GOLD;

2010 – GOLD

IIHF World Championships:

2017 – SILVER;

2016 – SILVER;

2015 – SILVER;

2013 – SILVER;

2012 – GOLD;

2011 – SILVER;

2009 – SILVER;

2008 – SILVER




Photo: Rebecca Johnston [Team Canada]
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