Vernon’s Shawnee Harle is a two-time Olympian as an assistant coach with Canada’s women’s basketball team, and former head coach of the University of Calgary Dinos women’s hoops squad. She has created her own website to help athletes, parents, coaches and businesses deal with mental toughness. (shawneeharle.com photo)

Vernon’s Shawnee Harle is a two-time Olympian as an assistant coach with Canada’s women’s basketball team, and former head coach of the University of Calgary Dinos women’s hoops squad. She has created her own website to help athletes, parents, coaches and businesses deal with mental toughness. (shawneeharle.com photo)

Two-time Okanagan Olympian passes along mental toughness tips

Vernon’s Shawnee Harle is Canada’s highest certified basketball coach

Ask two-time Olympian Shawnee Harle if she thinks sports is tough. Not just for athletes, but parents and coaches as well.

Or ask Harle about athletes performing or not performing under pressure. Or lacking motivation.

Harle can help with all of it.

A longtime basketball coach, Harle ran successful summer hoop camps in Calgary for years and planned to move her camp to her new address in Vernon in 2020, but then the pandemic hit.

So, she put together a virtual program on mental toughness and has developed an online version where athletes, coaches or anyone in the public can sign up and do the program at their own convenience.

“I had to shift and pivot,” said Harle of not being able to host successful, sold-out basketball camps. “I thought, ‘How can I take all of these years of sports and life experiences, and serve people?’”

Harle has compiled an impressive resumé.

She served as an assistant coach for the Canadian women’s basketball team at two Olympics and is the most highly certified basketball coach in Canada. Harle has 26 years of elite coaching and leadership experience counting the Olympics, World Championships, FIBA Americas and World University Games, and was also head coach for years of the University of Calgary Dinos’ women’s basketball team.

She holds a master’s degree in coaching studies, is a master coach developer and master learning facilitator for the National Coaching Certification Program where she trains and mentors both advanced and novice coaches from all sports.

Harle also counts a variety of athletes as clients helping them excel in sport and life with her Mental Toughness Training – How Champions are Built.

She launched her website, shawneeharle.com in October 2020, something that tested her own mental toughness skills.

“I figured out how to built it (website) but I’m old school,” she laughed. “It really challenged the things I teach in mental toughness. It challenged my grit, perseverance, my growth and mindset. It forced me to become a skilled problem solver.”

The No. 1 thing Harle teaches about mental toughness is courage, and she cites her website creation as an example.

“When I was ready to click ‘Publish,’ honestly I felt the same kind of butterflies when I was coaching or playing in a really important championship,” said Harle. “I was glad I had a tool kit. I have to practice what I preach. Have to prove to people this mental toughness kit is reliable.

Harle said the response to her website has been excellent.

“My goal is to help people solve a pain point or a problem,” she said. “I use sport as a context and I call it mental toughness. In reality, what I’m doing is using my tag line which is, ‘I help people take a walk inside and awaken.’”

The interest in her virtual program, Harle said, has to do with how much sport has changed since the olden days. Harle thinks it’s tougher to be an athlete, coach and parent now than when she was growing up because “everything you do or say is on display.”

“You are judged based on those things,” said Harle, noting the No. 1 thing parents ask about when they hire her is giving their children more confidence.

“Kids are put in sports to build all the things we know sports do, but why are we seeing so much anxiety, so much lack of confidence, and why do girls drop out at six times the rate of boys? What tools do parents have to navigate this? I give them a tool kit.”

Harle’s experience in the elite world of sports can also transfer directly to the business boardrooms where success if talent-oriented and people-driven. Teams and leaders have taken her sessions geared toward business: Build a Winning Team; Build a Winning Culture; Transform Managers to Leaders; and Ignite the Leader Within.



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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