Teresa Hutchinson knows great players don’t always make great coaches, but
she also understands exceptions exist.
As a former high-performance athlete turned high-performance coach, she
finds it almost amusing that her successful transition in hockey has
debunked that theory.
“I was quite intense as a player,” she says. “In fact, former teammates
used to say, ‘Oh my God, you’d be a horrible coach.’
“For me as a player it was about winning. As a coach, it’s about making
sure the kids have a good experience and use sports as a jumping off point
in their life, especially females.”
As such, the 53-year-old is the BFL Female Coach of the Year (High
“There’s no one more deserving,” says Maggie MacEachern, who captained
Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team to gold at the 2019 IIHF U18
Women’s World Championship. “Teresa is a trailblazer. She’s someone that
has been a huge role model in our sport and a person you can look up to.
“She’s living proof you can still have a huge impact on the game after your
playing time is over. She’s definitely earned it.”
Although the two women were first introduced a few years ago through skill
development and selection camps conducted by the Ontario Women’s Hockey
Association (OWHA), it wasn’t until last year that they actually
represented the same team.
Both were members of Team Ontario at the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red
Deer, Alta., with Hutchinson serving as an assistant coach.
“Any questions you have about the game, Teresa has an answer before you ask
it,” says MacEachern. “She’s the one you want to go to and has a great
relationship with everyone that she coaches.”
For most girls growing up in the 1970s, the opportunities to play were
fairly restrictive. Either you played with the boys (if allowed) or you
didn’t play at all. Such was the case for Hutchinson growing up in
Sure, she participated in road hockey and other pick-up games at the park
with her brothers and neighborhood kids, but organized girls’ hockey was
“I always wanted to play hockey,” she says. “Like a lot of girls back then,
I got dragged to the rink to watch my brothers play, but I wasn’t allowed
But around the age of nine there was a local post for girls’ hockey signup.
The ask to her parents was immediate and they quickly approved without much
In fact, her mother, Gloria, became one of her first coaches – wearing
figure skates, no less.
“We always joked about how long it was going to take for her to toe pick,”
recalls Hutchinson. “And she never disappointed.”
From that season forward Hutchinson morphed into a full-on rink rat.
“I put a lot of time into it. I would come home from school and go back to
the park. Then home again for dinner and then back under the lights. I just
wanted to play hockey.”
By her mid-teens Hutchinson was playing senior women’s hockey in
Newtonbrook and only a few years later was competing at the Senior A level
– the highest caliber of hockey and an open age group – in cities like
Burlington and Mississauga.
It was that last stop from 1986 to 1993 with the Mississauga Warriors that
she found a solid foundation and quality coaching in Lee Trempe, who
provided structure and guidelines that Hutchinson maintains provided her
with “the first real coach that taught me the game.”
In the middle of that period came the pinnacle of Hutchinson’s playing
career. As a gifted skater and a natural defender, she was starting to
attain recognition on a national level.
Eventually she would represent her country on the blue-line as a member of
Team Canada at the 1990 IIHF World Women’s Championship in Ottawa – the
first IIHF-sanctioned tournament in women’s hockey.
“Obviously it doesn’t get any better than playing for the national team and
playing for your country,” says Hutchinson, who works as a superintendent
with the Durham Regional Police Service with nearly 32 years of public
service. “Canada is always expected to win and especially at that time!”
Shortly after winning gold, Hutchinson started to think long-term about
maintaining a presence in the game in addition to being a player.
In 1992, she started coaching a boys’ team in Port Perry, Ont. A couple of
years later she progressed to a higher level and remained there until her
son Benjamin, now 21, was born.
By her own admission, she was so attached to the game that even while
pregnant her devotion to the team never wavered. She ran practice two
nights before going into labour and then returned to the ice just six days
later to continue coaching her Atom (now U11) team to a provincial
championship that season.
The same scenario played out again a couple years later in the birth of her
daughter MacKenzie, 19.
“I had to wait a little longer for her. I had to wait a week-and-a-half
before I got back on the ice. I managed to time my kids so I could have
them in January so I could be ready for the second half of the season.
“That’s how hockey crazy I was.”
Hutchinson coached her kids along the way, too. But once they were done,
she turned her attention to progressing in the coaching ranks.
It started with a few conversations with Fran Rider, one of the founders of
the OWHA who Hutchinson played against for years.
They began discussing different coaching opportunities and a possible move
up in the women’s game. From there, she started working OWHA
high-performance camps in 2014 and shortly after coaching at that level.
Her résumé now includes provincial U16, U18 and Canada Games teams and four
trips to the National Women’s Under-18 Championship, among other camps and
“It’s more important to be a good person than it is to be a good hockey
player,” Hutchinson says of her coaching philosophy. “I enjoy seeing them
grow, mature and move through their life.”
Three years ago, Hutchinson joined the York University women’s team as an
assistant to Dan Church, who, along with Geoff Haddaway of the Cambridge
Rivulettes of the Provincial Women’s Hockey League (PWHL), are two coaches
she considers to be great influences.
“They are coaches I look to know not only as mentors but as friends.
Working with good people makes coaching that much better. You take a little
from everybody that you meet along the way.”
Meanwhile, Hutchinson’s involvement in the women’s game continues to play a
significant role in growing the game and developing better players.
She says it’s important for women to be leaders of other women at the
highest levels of the game. Without that, it’s difficult to view a path of
“People have to see themselves,” she says. “If they don’t see themselves,
they don’t see the potential for them to move ahead in the game.”