Virden product Tori Eilers is the head coach of the U15 AAA female Yellowhead Chiefs, a regional squad that plays many of home games out of Minnedosa. The coaching staff includes assistant coaches Karli Frederick of Elkhorn and Oak Lake’s Kyle Cochrane. Elkhorn’s Janice Heritage serves as the team manager. Eilers, the first-year head coach, played U15 and U18 AAA hockey in the Chiefs organization as a goaltender.
“To be coaching in the same program, and region that gave me so much is truly an honour, and a privilege,” Eilers said. “I am forever grateful for what the U15 and U18 program provided for me in my hockey career. This program built some of my strongest relationships, producing lifelong friendships. I'm excited to be a part of the program again, and hopefully help create the same irreplaceable memories for the girls coming through the program now, and in future.”
After competing for the Chiefs, Eilers went on to play for the Olds College women’s hockey team in Alberta. One of her teammates there was Frederick, who also suited up for Assiniboine Community College. The duo played on the Chiefs and in minor hockey together, Eilers said.
“Tori and I got to play together for many seasons at different levels of hockey, so we’ve shared a lot of the same experiences,” Frederick said. “I think it helps us to be likeminded and work together so easily. What I like the most is to have a coaching partner but also a great friend, which makes the experience that much better.”
Eilers said it was a no brainer to ask her lifelong friend to join the coaching staff. “I am so excited for this next chapter of our hockey careers together,” Eilers said.
Cochrane and Eilers worked together as assistant coaches for the Chiefs last season. Cochrane’s daughter Courtney is a member of the team’s blue line.
“He brings a lot of knowledge to the team and is going to be a great resource and mentor for Freddy and myself,” Eilers said.
Heritage is the mother of Chiefs’ goalie Karlee Bird. She is an important part of the squad behind the scenes.
“She is levelheaded, understands the demands of the program, and is incredibly talented at organizing our chaos,” said Eilers, who also noted that Heritage has become a great friend of her’s.