CAF Coaches in the spotlight across the country
By Ryan Melanson,
Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Coaches Week takes place this year from September 19-27, and while the CAF Sports Program has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our dedicated coaches have still been taking their roles seriously over the last 18 months. Thanks to this, military teams have kept in touch, practiced when possible, and will be ready to hit the field/ice/court when the time is right.
LCdr Cindy Hawkins: CFB Halifax Mariners Women’s Slo-Pitch
It’s been nearly two decades since Slo-Pitch became an official Canadian Armed Forces sport, and LCdr Cindy Hawkins has been on the field since day one. She claimed gold at the very first CAF National Championship in 2002 with the CFB Esquimalt Tritons, and remains deeply involved with the women’s team today at CFB Halifax, having spent time as team captain, coach, and manager.
Growing up in rural Newfoundland, LCdr Hawkins said the ball field near her house was always the place to be, and her love of the game stayed with her through to adulthood. Her military career began as a Reservist with HMCS Cabot in 1995, and she was introduced to base sports on the west coast after joining the Regular Force in 2000. She stepped away for a few years while her children were young, but has now been a constant presence on the Halifax Mariners team since 2010, earning a collection of CAF Regional and National medals along the way.
“It helps you stay involved and stay connected with other people in the military,” she said.
“When you’re out at sea, basically that whole ship’s company is your family, but when you’re playing ball, that’s your ball family, and that’s special too.”
As the Executive Officer at Fleet Maintenance Facility Cape Scott in Halifax, the leadership aspect comes naturally, and she also has experience coaching young girls with Baseball Canada. She’s quick to give credit to her longtime teammate and co-coach PO1 Shaunda Lillington as well – the duo have dedicated countless hours to CAF Slo-Pitch in recent years, and they’re looking forward to getting back on the field soon. While major events will wait until 2022 at the earliest, hopes are for a PSP Invitational Tournament to take place in Halifax this October.
“For me, it will be all about just seeing everybody together again. Our women’s Halifax Mariners team has all played together for so long. These are strong friendships on and off the field,” she said.