The Portage Collegiate Trojans football team was led by a new face this season. While she has been a part of the program for five years, Jill Fast was in her first year as the head coach for PCI and finished with a record of 2-4. Fast describes her initial experience under the helm of the entire team.
"It was exciting to be a head coach for the first time," says Fast. "It was a really good season. We had a great group of kids, and it was just awesome to be back on the football field."
Fast was the linebacker coach at PCI for the last five seasons, and outlines the differences there was this season as the head coach.
"I definitely got to know the team more in-depth. Being head coach, you get to know more of the players and the ins and outs of how the program runs," Fast explains. "The program is a well-oiled machine with a lot of people that help and contribute."
Fast says it made it even more enjoyable to connect with so many kids, and she just hopes she was able to inspire some of the students, whether it was on or off the field.
The first-year head coach is also the only female head coach in the Winnipeg High School Football League. She says she has gotten used to the fact that there aren't too many women involved in the sport but notes she has noticed a rise in the number of girls in football in recent years.
"I've been coaching ever since I taught at PCI, so for me, it's more so about inspiring other women to get involved with the sport of football," Fast continues. "More and more women are starting to play football, coach football, and referee football. It makes me happy to know that I'm helping to inspire other women to get involved in the sport."
Fast says her main goal is to continue encouraging and potentially influencing women to give the sport a chance.
"We had two females on our team this year, and our manager is a female. Just talking with people, it seems like they were inspired too," Fast explains. "I really hope there are other women out there that I don't know or haven't heard about that can be inspired also."
The head coach says she hopes to keep as much of the band together as possible heading into next year.
"I'm really hoping that all of our coaches come back. We had a great coaching staff and I was so grateful for all of their help," says Fast. "A lot of the same kids will be back and I'm excited to have some new kids. Looking forward to doing a second year and having the program be strong again."