Howie Draper, BPE, MA
He had to think twice before accepting the challenge — but now Howie Draper, Head Coach of the University of Alberta Pandas, is known for building and maintaining the most successful women’s hockey team in Canada. Howie had played five seasons with the University of Alberta Golden Bears as he was earning his physical education degree. He got his start coaching in 1990 with the Midget AAA Maple Leaf Athletic Club and also coached in Australia. In 1997, he was asked to head up the new University of Alberta Pandas.
“When Ian Reade asked me to coach them, it was a shock. I pondered it a few days and thought it was a great opportunity to do something I love – work with people – and to do something from the bottom up. The opportunity to develop a program with the potential to be as rewarding for young people as the one I experienced was too good to turn down so I said ‘Let’s go for it!”
The Pandas won their first national championship in 2000, just three years after the program was created. Howie has coached the team to seven Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) national championships — more wins than by any other University of Alberta coach in any sport and more than any other women’s hockey team in the history of CIS. Howie has also scored two CIS silver medals, 12 Canada West titles and three CIS Coach of the Year awards. The Pandas didn’t lose a regular season game between 2000 and 2005, racking up 86 consecutive wins.
Howie is also a tireless volunteer, and has acted as guest instructor, evaluator, and Head Coach of Team Alberta’s U18 program. He was Head Coach of the Canadian Team that won gold at the 2013 Universiade in Trentino, Italy, and coached Team Alberta to gold and bronze on two separate trips to the Canada Winter Games.
“I came out of the Golden Bears Hockey environment where sharing in both the wins and failures was always emphasized. It’s a very collaborative model. I’m fortunate enough to have benefitted from great players and assistant coaches who possessed strengths I didn’t have. As a group we were able to do some amazing things.”