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|Vanessa Chorkawy named Head Coach, Brett Hagarty Interim|
Lakehead Athletics is pleased to announce a promising pair of coaches for the women’s volleyball team, one of whom is no stranger to the Thunderdome. In fact, she made a lot of her own thunder at the CJ Sanders Fieldhouse.
Vanessa Chorkawy, the four-year Thunderwolf, perennial OUA All-Star and Team Canada Athlete has agreed to terms to become the next Head Coach of Women’s Volleyball at Lakehead University.
Joining Chorkawy as an interim coach will be Brett Hagarty, whose volleyball resume includes Head Coach of Team Ontario’s Beach Volleyball program since 2016, and a spot on the Junior National Team in her youth. Hagarty was also an OUA All Star in her career that included degrees at Queen’s and Ryerson, where she helped the Rams to the national title game playing left side.
“These young professionals share a coaching philosophy and bring a proven pedigree of competitiveness to our women’s volleyball program,” notes Tom Warden, Director of Athletics.
The duo of coaches will usher in the next era of Thunderwolves volleyball, with Hagarty taking the reins on an interim basis for the 2021-22 season, while Chorkawy will officially assume her role early in 2022.
Both Hagarty and Chorkawy share a common, people-first philosophy in their coaching styles. As they explain, that alignment is key to build a new culture well into the future.
“First and foremost, the most important thing is that our coaching philosophies align,” says Chorkawy.
Hagarty adds, “Vanessa and I plan to be in close contact this season to stay on the same page, and I’m also so grateful to have the space to begin re-creating a program and bridging it over to Vanessa next year.”
Warden is ecstatic to see such a high-caliber Thunderwolf alumna return to take on the head coaching role.
“With Vanessa, I’ve seen it with my own eyes. We all have,” says Warden. “She’s a winner and I have no doubt she will instill that spirit and competitive edge into our women’s volleyball program for years to come.”
Chorkawy’s 2022 in-person arrival to the ‘Wolves is due to obligations she will honor as a member of the coaching staff at Acadia University in Wolfville, NS, where she is also an instructor in the School of Kinesiology. As she explains, her three years as an assistant on the coaching staff at Acadia has taught her the importance of relationships and a people-first approach in player development.
“Building trust and a winning culture begins with investing in your people,” says Chorkawy. “The players, coaches, support staff – everyone contributes to developing leadership opportunities and supporting individual growth for one another to be successful.”
For those who watched Chorkawy and the ‘Wolves play from 2007 to 2013, Vanessa’s drive to compete at the highest level was evident. She led the OUA in kills and points in her final year. And like so many student athletes before and after her, she developed a bond with Lakehead that would beckon her back. Since graduating, Vanessa has played for Team Canada, and professionally in Sweden and the Czech Republic.
Vanessa continues,”I’m passionate about volleyball; I love the game, I love competing, and I love helping athletes develop as individuals. More importantly, I love the total team effort that is required to be successful.”
For Hagarty, she is proud to be an example of a professional woman taking on a leadership role in women’s volleyball, and appreciates the rare opportunity to be a head coach at the U SPORTS level.
“It’s an incredible honor,” Hagarty explains. “We need more women coaches at the university level, and I couldn’t be happier to be gaining this valuable coaching experience together with Vanessa.”
“This coaching transition plan is an innovative opportunity for Lakehead to champion leadership roles for female coaches, and I’m proud to be one of them,” adds Chorkawy.
Warden adds, “We found Brett to be a great fit to step in right away and bridge the head coaching role to Vanessa when she arrives in 2022. I am certain that Brett and Vanessa have what it takes to work together to get our program where it needs to be, and their collaboration in the months to come will provide an excellent learning and competitive environment for our women’s volleyball program.”