Abbi Vigue, a product of the Revelstoke Minor Hockey program and a mother of two, was named the assistant coach of the Revelstoke Grizzlies.
Vigue, who still needs to finish some paperwork before she can stand behind the bench, was hired by coach Darren Naylor on Thursday evening, a day before the regular season started. She could be seen sitting in the press box, taking notes throughout the weekend.
“I still think it’s kind of a shock. It’s out of the blue,” she said after Friday’s game. “I’m very excited but it is shocking, today.”
Vigue played boys minor hockey growing up in Revelstoke before attending the North American Hockey Academy and Plattsburgh State University in New York. In 2003, she played for the Vancouver Griffins as part of B.C.’s entry at the national women’s hockey championships and she played for the Kamloops-based BC Outback.
Recently, she has coached the Revelstoke girls hockey team but she said she hadn’t thought too much about a coaching career. “I’d like to but I didn’t expect this to happen.”
Vigue was first approached by Naylor to run power skating lessons for two hours every Monday.
“I talked about what he expected and what he wanted and I said I’d give it a try,” she said. “He phoned me that night, he said he talked to a few guys and asked if I wanted to be assistant coach.
“I said I’d give it a try. I have two young kids, they obviously come first, but he was great with it, he understood and here I am.”
Naylor said he spoke to a few hockey people in town who spoke highly of Vigue. “They said she was a hell of a hockey player and she knows the game,” he said. “She was taking notes the first two games. Her views with what was going on were pretty much bang on.”
Vigue isn’t the first female assistant coach in the KIJHL – we found evidence of at least one other – but she is part of a very small group at least. She hopes to help the players with their conditioning and to share with them some of the wisdom she has gained playing high-level hockey.
What did she think of the team after Friday’s 4-1 loss to Kamloops?
“There’s great potential, for sure,” she said. “We’re just going to have to gel together a little better and understand how coach Darren is asking how to play. We’re starting fresh and getting the jitters out.”