Coaches Week Spotlight: LeeAnn Napiorkowski

September 19, 2022


Coaches Week Spotlight: LeeAnn Napiorkowski

September 19th, 2022

(Whitby, ON) - National Coaches Week is an annual campaign lead by the Coaching Association of Canada. Coaches Week is an opportunity to recognize coaches for the integral role they play by taking the time to recognize and thank them for all their efforts. Join in on the week by recognizing your favourite coach on social media using the hashtag #ThanksCoach. Tag Rugby Ontario in the post so we can recognize them as well!

In celebration of National Coaches Week, Rugby Ontario is profiling volunteer coaches from across the Ontario rugby community. Today’s profile is on LeeAnn Napiorkowski! LeeAnn is one of the founders of Canadian Jax United the first a unified rugby club in Canada, interested in helping spread the joy and friendships developed by playing rugby. LeeAnn has also coached teams with  Lanark Highlanders, St. Peters High School and the Carlton Ravens. Read below to learn more about LeeAnn!

How did you first get involved with rugby? 

My high school science teacher Sherry Tanner was a rugby player and she encouraged me to try a new sport.  

What is your favourite rugby memory? 

Traveling to Ireland, Scotland and England with the St. Peter High School rugby teams.

What do you love most about the sport? 

The community that is generated by participating in our sport. You are truly part of a larger global family when you play rugby.

What made you want to become a coach? 

Rugby has given me so much in my life. I feel like I owe the sport back for all that it has given to me.

What role have mentors and mentees played in your coach development? Anyone you want to give a shoutout to? 

Colleagues, mentors and mentees are essential to any good learning environment. I am blessed to have too many to mention. Every person I get to have an interaction with on and off the pitch contributes to furthering my understanding of the sport. Thank you to everyone who has taken time to "talk shop" about rugby with me.

What challenges come with being a coach? 

Working in the men's side of the game has presented some challenges for me as a woman. We need more women coaching men's teams. It is essential for our athletes and our colleagues to see women as head coaches of men's teams. You can't be it if you don't see it.

What is your favourite part about coaching? 

Creating lasting relationships with athletes and helping them to discover their potential as humans and athletes.

How have you changed as a coach over your career? 

When I started out, winning was my focus. That's what I learned was important when I was a player. I now place a greater emphasis on the journey and development of culture on the teams that I work with.  

What have you learned during the pandemic that can help you grow as a coach? 

Connection is key. Working in isolation taught us all how necessary human connection is. I think we took for granted how amazing it is to have face to face contact with our athletes. I no longer take that for granted. 

What would you say to someone who is considering getting into coaching? 

Your best PD is walking and talking with other coaches. Don't just attend PD sessions run by elite coaches. Visit other clubs and see what they are doing. Take time to get to know those people in your local community. We have so many resources nearby that often go untapped.

What are your goals as you move forward in your coaching career? 

Working with The Canadian Jax Unified Rugby Club has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my career. I would love to share my experiences with other coaches and clubs who would like to make our sport more inclusive. 


Rugby Ontario is the provincial sports governing body responsible for the organization of rugby in Ontario. Our mission is to lead, support and promote Rugby for All from communities to clubs to province. This mission signals a movement toward creating a more cohesive, supportive and progressive sporting environment that is responsive to the needs of all members.

To learn more, visit


Dalton Finkbeiner

Communications and Marketing Coordinator - Rugby Ontario

    647-560-4790 x 1006


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