Toronto,ON- Since 2011, Lisa Haley has built and coached the Ryerson Rams women’s hockey program from nothing to near champions. 158 days since the school’s most successful season came to a close, she’s getting a chance to propel another team.
The Rams’ bench boss has been named the head coach of the Hungarian women’s national team and will lead the nation into the 2021 IIHF World Championships and through Beijing 2022 Olympic qualifying.
While Haley is joining a new federation with Hungary, it will not be her first foray into coaching international hockey. The 47-year-old was an assistant coach on Canada’s gold-medal winning side at the 2014 Olympics and silver medal teams at the 2008 and 2013 IIHF World Championships.
Hungary finished first in the second division of the IIHF World Championships in 2019, qualifying them for the first division for the inaugural time in country history. The Spring 2020 tournament was set to take place in Haley’s home province of Nova Scotia but was cancelled due to COVID-19.
Martin Vas, the general director of the Hungarian Hockey Association is confident in Haley’s leadership. Saying “We want to give the [team] the best possible preparation before the World Cup and the Olympic qualifiers [and] I am sure that Lisa will be able to develop the players and prepare the team to the maximum,” in a translated media release.
For Haley, leading the 2021 Hungarian World Championship team onto the ice in her home province will be something special, even though the team will be far from favourites. The two-time AUS Coach of the Year has been known to take on challenges throughout her career, and with Hungary she’s taking on yet another.
“I know the recent successes of Hungarian women’s hockey and the opportunity to add to it inspires me,” she said to Ryerson Athletics. “The results so far provide a strong foundation that can ensure long-term success, and even greater things can be built on that.”
The 2003 U SPORTS Coach of the Year is already in Hungary with the national team coaching their summer training camp in Tüskesent, as the nation prepares for the biggest yea rin their women’s hockey history.
Haley has built the Ryerson Rams from the ground up since 2011, and nearly led them to the U SPORTS National Championships in 2019-20, but 158 days since losing to the University of Toronto in the OUA semi-final, she is getting another chance to elevate a program.
Lisa Haley might not be a part of Team Canada, but if she leads the Hungarian team to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, it would be the first time that two Ryerson head coaches lead teams to the Olympics in the same cycle. The other being women’s basketball head coach Carly Clarke, who is the assistant coach of Team Canada basketball. While both would not be at the same games, the 2021 (2020) Tokyo Summer Olympics and Beijing 2022 Games are in the same cycle.
Cover Photo: Christian Bender