By Kaytlyn Poberznick
A former ACAC player of the year is taking the reins on the women’s hockey team this coming 2021-2022 season. After having several encounters with coaching and running his own goalie development business, Brendan Jensen is ready to finally hold the position of head coach with the NAIT Ooks.
“It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve always been involved. The year that I was transferring (to NAIT as a student), I was an assistant coach for a [junior varsity] team and a high school team in West Fargo, North Dakota, as well as a goalie coach, so it’s always something I’ve done,” said Jensen.
“I think the biggest thing, for me, is just trying to make a difference in the student athletes’ lives.”
A common feeling within the athletic community is the wish to have a ‘normal’ season next year. Jensen is no exception to that. The NAIT alumni has high hopes for the program and is ready to explore how far he can push his team.
“We have a great leadership core, so kind of speaking clichés, but the sky is the limit. I hope that we can reach the finals, and I hope that we can win it all. I think that [there] shouldn’t be [anything] that we [don’t] shoot for, especially in our league,” said Jensen. After being an assistant coach for the women’s hockey team over the past year, Jensen has seen what talents his players hold and is prepared to capitalize on them.
“I think we’re going to be a really fast team,” said Jensen. “I want us to use our speed and skill work, […] and then try to take advantage of every team in the fun zone. I think if we’re down there the majority of the time, then the results are going to speak for themselves.”
As a hockey player, Jensen has seen the game in a different light and hopes to implement his many years of experience into his coaching style. “I was a goaltender at NAIT, so I got to see games evolve and see different practice plans take shape, so I think they’re going to see a different lens of my coaching style and philosophy. Maybe it’s a little more laid-back approach for me [but I’ll have an] open-door policy which I think is huge nowadays,” said Jensen.
Heading into the peak of off-season training, Jensen has set up some programs to help his players keep in shape in an attempt to be ready for the return to play.“We do have a weight training program, if they don’t have personal trainers themselves back home, that I’ve designed,” said Jensen.
“Obviously, if they’re maintaining or if they’re putting on too much bulk, we’re going to lose some sort of speed. Like I’ve reiterated, I think that’s going to be a huge thing [for us to be able to] take advantage of our opponents is to work on our speed and use the rush.”
With a knowledgeable coach and a full roster, the coming year holds a lot of promise for the women’s hockey team.