Watson, Mercedes

Mercedes Watson (MKin 2012) is the Director of Coach & Partner Development, at the Coaches Association of Ontario (CAO). She and her team provide coach development, funding opportunities, and events for Ontario’s approximately 250,000 coaches. She also works with various sport organizations to support their coach development needs, such as Right to Play, the Greater Toronto Hockey League, and Hockey Canada.

Mercedes’ passion for coaching began as an undergraduate in human kinetics at the University of Ottawa. With an HKin degree in hand, and a desire to specialize in coaching science she came to UBC to do her master’s degree in kinesiology. Her supervisor, Dr. Dick Mosher (1944-2021), was an inspiring figure for her academic journey. “He was a masterful educator and coach,” states Mercedes, “and he really allowed me to follow my own academic path while making sure I was exposed to diverse sport topics and expert coaches.” In addition to her MKin, she acquired several professional certifications, including the CSEP-CEP, NSCA-CSCS, and NCCP Certified Coach.

When asked about her memories at UBC, she recalls that one of her first experiences at UBC was when she ran with a baton during the Day of the Long Boat, “severely underestimating the cold Pacific Ocean”. This unforgettable moment would be the first of many at UBC, especially with her graduate student cohort. “After lectures we would often get together to learn in informal spaces,” reflects Mercedes. “Many of my peers had very inspiring work and coaching careers of their own, so I learned a lot from them and their coaching practices.” As a director and ice hockey coach, she continually “translates research to practice” and “references key learnings of various coaching programs.” Her studies and experiences at UBC have evolved her career to what it is today.

Mercedes has gained exceptional success throughout her career. In 2015, she helped establish National Coaches Week with the Coaching Association of Canada and the Provincial Territorial Coaching Representatives. By using the hashtag #ThanksCoach, this special week celebrates coaches and their incredible impact on their communities. Likewise, she supported the work of Rowan’s Law in Ontario, which was the first provincial law for concussion safety to protect athletes in Canada. Working with various organizations on these types of initiatives has now led Mercedes to work on fostering more inclusivity in sport and coaching.

Mercedes’ advice to students: Keep an open mind to the subjects and topics you complete during your studies. Kinesiology is an amazing field of study with its breadth of topics, so take advantage of this and expose yourself to as much of it as possible.