Caribous coach makes Herder history
Rebecca Russell first woman to lead team to coveted trophy
The smile on her face said it all.
When the final buzzer sounded Saturday night at the Jack Byrne Arena in Torbay, coach Rebecca Russell and assistant coach Andrew Hapgood fell together in a bear hug.
The Caribous had taken the Herder in four games straight, and Russell had made history, becoming the first woman to coach a senior hockey team to a Herder championship win.
While many call her a trailblazer, head coach for the Caribous has always downplayed her role in breaking the glass ceiling in senior hockey.
And in the wake of this season’s Herder win, she says she hopes, from here on, she’ll be seen as a coach first and foremost.
In an interview with The Packet, Russell says she concedes the amount of attention she’s getting for being a female Herder winner this one time, “if it helps people believe in something more. Caribous players cheer and applaud as head coach Rebecca Russell holds the Herder trophy for the first time on Saturday night.
“If it’s a representation of something bigger for others, then I’m okay with taking that pride of being a trailblazer and being proud of what we’ve done as a team, what those boys have done with me to make this happen
and help me be the first,” she said.
Russell though gives the credit to the players, saying it was their hard work on the ice, their focus, that gave her the opportunity to make hockey history
in this province.
“Hopefully it’ll help people, whether male or female, who may believe that they couldn’t do something because of who they were, or where they lived, or their gender, or sexuality, or whatever it is.
“I hope that people look at this and say, ‘She did it — why can’t I?’”
The 2018 Herder win came after a long journey from the heartbreaking end to last season.
There were tears shed this time last year in Clarenville, as a controversial goal by the Cee Bees in the seventh game of the series, ended the Caribous hopes.
“It still stings, to be honest,” said Russell, saying the events of last year was a driving force behind their play in this year’s season, and championship series.
“Up until the last couple of days, people were still talking about that Herder championship that we lost … I don’t think we’ll ever forget it.
“But . . . the fact that we responded the way we did, with the group of guys that we had, to get us back in the situation where we weren’t going to let it slip us by again … to me that’s a special thing and a special group of guys.”