Participate to the online award ceremony on March 18, 2021.
Olga Hrycak has had a profound impact on the field of professional coaching after more than 48 years of leadership as head coach of a number of high school, college and university basketball teams (girls, boys, women and men), including a national men’s team. Her teams have won numerous provincial championships. She was also the first North American woman to coach a men’s university basketball team, as head coach of the Université du Québec à Montréal Citadins.
Central to her coaching philosophy is a holistic approach to her athletes. Beyond physical skills training, Olga Hrycak also emphasizes stress management skills and the spirit of healthy competition, not to mention the importance of academic results. A number of her athletes were from underprivileged backgrounds and she used her community contacts to ensure that their need for a balanced diet was met. She is now recognized and respected across the country for her concrete action and her humanity in a field that is dominated by men.
Olga Hrycak promoted the concept of coach as genderless. However, being aware of the perception bias associated with an individual’s gender, she insisted on having two male assistant coaches. She could therefore rely on their viewpoint to gauge the reactions of her male players and not be limited by her own subconscious biases.
Coaching is Olga Hrycak’s passion. Her natural talents as a communicator and her attentiveness to her partners’ needs made her an excellent spokesperson on physical education and she has been brought in as a consultant by many Quebec schools. She also sat on the board of the Greater Montreal Athletic Association (GMAA)/Réseau du Sport Étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) and was chair of the board of Basketball Quebec. She also sat on the board of the Greater Montreal Athletic Association (GMAA)/Réseau du Sport Étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) and was chair of the board of Basketball Quebec. She represented Quebec on the board of directors of Canada Basketball, taking on the role of Vice-Chair, Athlete Development. Fully engaged in her community, Olga Hrycak assumed prominent roles in various student sports coaching organizations, making an undeniable contribution.
Olga Hrycak believes that we inspire people through our best practices. Over her career working with young athletes, she played a variety of roles—nutritionist, psychologist and teacher—and through their close contact with her, she imparted profound human values. Olga Hrycak is also recognized for her discipline, hard work, perseverance, enthusiasm and loyalty. Last but not least, she instilled in her players the notion of giving back, encouraging them to get personally involved in charitable causes they care about.