PA Sports Hall of Fame to welcome Jenn Ferguson

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald Jenn Ferguson (right) sits beside Kelsey Pearson (left) during the 5A Girls’ Basketball regional tournament at Ecole St. Mary High School earlier this year.

For more than 20 years, Jenn Ferguson has been a fixture as a coach in Prince Albert sports.

Ferguson, who is currently the principal at Carlton Comprehensive High School, began coaching back in 2002 when she started coaching senior girls’ soccer and basketball at the school. Ferguson then began coaching softball in the spring of 2003.

Ferguson says seeing the passion that each athlete brings to their sport is what keeps her coming back.

“It’s definitely the kids of course. I’ve been so lucky over the course of my coaching career to work with hundreds and hundreds of young women. Just the joy they bring to the diamond or the court or the field, the energy that they feed me with and the lessons they’ve taught me you can’t replace those in any other volunteer way.”

Ferguson began coaching senior girls soccer for Carlton beginning in the fall of 2002. She held the post as head coach until 2016 and in that time, Carlton was crowned regional champions five times. Ferguson would lead Carlton to provincial gold medals in 2009 and 2013, silver medals in 2015 and 2016 and a bronze medal in 2012.

The Carlton seniors girls’ basketball program has been putting Prince Albert on the map for several years and Ferguson has been a major reason why. She has been a member of the coaching staff since 2002 and in that time, Carlton has won the regional title nine times. The Crusader girls’ have won five provincial medals in that time frame including a gold medal in 2010, a silver in 2007 and a trio of bronze medals in 2009, 2016 and 2018.

Kelsey Pearson has coached alongside Ferguson for the past six seasons on the Carlton seniors girls’ basketball team. She says Ferguson has been a successful coach because of her ability to give players advice that expands well beyond sport.

“For me what makes Jenn so special is what she teaches the kids behind closed doors. That’s what makes her the best coach. I’m lucky that I get to sit next to her and just be a sponge and I get to witness this greatness which not everyone gets to see. She’s so inspiring and she teaches so many life lessons besides what to do on the court.”

“It’s the way she teaches them those important things, like how to be a good teammate, how to sit on the bench when you’re not playing and be a good person, how to talk to your teammates when you’re like not on the court, what to do in the hallways, how to keep your marks up and time management. She is so inspirational and has lived through it. She can honestly tell the girls that these are the skills that you’re going to take and move on with and use for the rest of your life. I think that just speaks to her not only as a coach, but as a person.”

Ferguson says the most rewarding aspect of coaching for her is seeing her former players succeed once they graduate and move onto the next chapter of their lives, whether in sport or professionally.

“I think the bigger success or the more joy that I find is watching these young women learn the skills that they need to be successful after high school, whether that be in university or in the career they choose or just being part of our community and seeing them develop the relationships amongst their teammates that they do. Watch them struggle, watch them overcome that struggle, succeed and be stronger and better because of it. I just really find it so rewarding when those kids come back to visit or find a way to contribute to the current team that I’m coaching or want to get involved in a club program that’s happening in Prince Albert”.

Ferguson’s first taste of coaching came in her teenage years. While she was living in Saskatoon, she coached fastpitch softball alongside her uncle for teams that had some of her younger cousins.

The itch to coach stuck with Ferguson as she went into education. While she was already coaching soccer and basketball at Carlton, Ferguson approached Prince Albert Minor Softball about coaching a team in the summertime.

In 2003, she led a Squirt team to a provincial championship and the success kept coming on the diamond.

Ferguson would lead Prince Albert to a Western Canadian bronze medal in 2005 when they hosted the championship. She would lead the Midget Aces to back to back provincial championships in 2009 and 2010. The 2010 squad also won gold at the Western Canadian championships.

In 2013, Ferguson led a bantam Aces team, who were perceived as an underdog to a gold medal at the Western Canadians in Winnipeg. The success continued into 2014 as the Bantam Aces would win provincials. The next year, they took home a provincial silver medal in the midget category.

Ferguson says she enjoyed the experience of coaching some championship teams, but the most special part for her was seeing her players spend time together away from the field.

“I’m a competitive person. I enjoy winning just as much as everybody else that plays on the teams that I coach. When you get there, you quickly learn as an athlete or a coach that playing on a ball diamond in British Columbia is fairly similar to playing on a ball diamond in Saskatchewan. The talent level has increased that you’re competing against, but you’re still trying to do the same things that you were here.”

“It was always my objective to make sure that the girls were creating memories off the field as much as they were creating them on the field. When we get together again, whenever that is, we won’t necessarily be talking about the games. We’ll be talking about the things that we did together. That’s definitely one of the things that I enjoyed most about the travel that we’ve got to get to do together with all the teams I’ve coached is the time we’ve spent together, not competing.”

When asked about hearing the news of Ferguson’s upcoming induction, Pearson says she is incredibly excited that Ferguson will be honored and that she is looking forward to coaching with her for many more years to come.

“I’m so proud of her and there’s no one I can think of that’s more deserving. She deserves it every year and I wish I would have been the one to nominate her because I didn’t even know that she had not won that award yet and definitely so well deserved. I couldn’t be more proud of her and I don’t think there’s anyone more deserving than Jenn.”

“I could tear up talking about Jenn. I think I could go on and on. It’s an honor learning from her and being able to sit beside her for the last six years coaching. Hopefully she has another 30 years left because I ain’t letting her go.”

Ferguson and the rest of the 32nd Induction Class in the Prince Albert Sports Hall of Fame will be honored at the induction banquet in the Ches Leach Lounge on April 27. The event begins at 6 p.m.