By Sarah Tone, Communications Coordinator
As a badminton coach over the past 10 years, Kyler Murray has come to be known as a quiet leader. Kyler is committed to creating a positive sport environment where athletes feel comfortable expressing their authentic selves, making mistakes, and having fun. He does this by modeling sportsmanship, being positive and kind to his athletes and opponents, but also encouraging them to try new things.
Kyler has served as an assistant coach at both Springfield Middle School and Springfield Collegiate in Oakbank, Manitoba. He has also assisted in providing badminton lessons to age groups ranging from junior, teen, and intermediate. Additionally, Kyler coached the East Region for the Manitoba Regional Challenge in 2022 and was an apprentice coach for the 2023 Canada Winter Games. In July of 2023, Kyler was named Head Coach of the Badminton teams that traveled to the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) in Halifax. Still an athlete himself, Kyler still finds time to pursue his love of badminton. Provincially, he is ranked seventh in Men’s singles.
Leadership for the Long Term
Kyler considers himself a passionate person who is having the most fun when he is around sport. He tries to exemplify this by always smiling, laughing and joking with his athletes. He wants them to understand that first and foremost, they can have fun while competing. He knows firsthand that sport has its highs and lows, and he encourages the importance of finding moments of joy in the things that can be controlled. Kyler wants the athletes he coaches to be involved in sports long-term, which he believes they can do if they learn to enjoy themselves along the way.
At the stage Kyler coaches, athletes must learn the rules of their sport, the values of an honest competitor, and the impact of mistakes. It is these intangible elements of sport combined with respect that Kyler keeps at the forefront of his coaching. Kyler always approaches the court with a smile. His goal is to demonstrate that both he and his athletes are cordial, approachable, and respectful. For Indigenous youth in particular, that is a valuable demonstration, because it helps offset the bias that often surrounds Indigenous competitors. Regardless of whether or not his athletes were successful in their matches, Kyler always initiates shaking hands with opponents, opposing coaches, and officials and his athletes know to follow. Additionally, he ensures that athletes are congratulated on their hard work regardless of the results.
For this year’s NAIG, Kyler recognized that many of the athletes representing Manitoba had not experienced the elevated training and commitment that comes with competing at an international Games. In response, he facilitated periodization programming to introduce athletes to a variety of stimuli, lessons, and experiences that reinforced their love of sport. It is important to demonstrate why sports are so crucial for their all-around development.
Kyler focuses on consistency in practice- icebreaker games, friendly competitions, and teamwork-based games – to help the athletes form friendships with one another, which ultimately helps them work better as a team. According to Kyler, about half of the athletes that he coached for NAIG had never met each other, let alone competed as a team before. This growth paid off at NAIG, as the 19U girls earned gold in both singles and doubles, the 19U boys earned gold in doubles, the 19U mixed team was awarded silver, and the 16U girls earned bronze in both singles and doubles.
All For One
Additionally, Kyler takes the physical and mental well-being of his athletes very seriously. He believes in maintaining safe opportunities to reflect so athletes never feel pressured to compete, especially if they feel unable to do so. Creating an inclusive, safe, and comfortable environment starts with building a culture rooted in fun and enjoyment of the sport they are playing. Competition itself is enjoyable, but he truly believes the opportunity to play the sport you love is incredible. Kyler enjoys seeing his athletes cheering each other on, and celebrating not just the victories, but the hard-fought games regardless of results, as he knows these experiences make sport enjoyable and bring people together.
Sport Manitoba Coaching Awards presented by Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries
The Janet Arnott Memorial Award for Train to Train is awarded to coaches who are responsible for athletes who compete at the Canada Games and National Championships.
National Coaches Week – September 16 – 24, 2023
National Coaches Week encourages Canadians to say thanks and celebrate the tremendous positive impact coaches have on athletes and communities. This week is an opportunity to recognize coaches for the integral role they play by simply saying #ThanksCoach.