Coaching the Premier League

During a time when coaches are usually in their off-season, planning and recruiting for the upcoming varsity/OVA year, The Premier League has been luring them in to coach the best of the best to a Premier Cup Championship. The short time frame, minimal commitment and professional environment gives them a fresh perspective on the sport, and their involvement has been so rewarding for our athletes, that we can’t begin to thank them enough.

Two highly accomplished coaches hailing from both College and University, give us their take on what it means to coach in the Premier League. Chris Wilkins from Humber College and Brenda Willis from Queen’s University bring years of successful coaching programs to the Toronto Premier League. With 2 and 1 season(s) under their belt respectively, they’re hooked, and urging more coaches from USport and the CCAA to get involved.


Chris Wilkins

The Premier League is filled with athletes that absolutely love playing the game and it will force you to challenge them to be better players, which in turn will make you a better coach.
Chris Wilkins

Chris Wilkins

He is a legend among coaches. The longest standing coach of the Women’s Volleyball team at Humber College has achieved many awards including being the 2016 CCAA Bronze Medal Winner, 2009 CCAA Coach of the Year, being a 13x OCAA Champion AND a 6x OCAA Coach of the Year. He has reached a milestone that only 2 other Humber coaches have reached - 300 wins.

In 2017, the inaugural season the Premier League, he was the co-coach of the Galaxy All-Stars. In 2018, he stepped up to the role of Head Coach, eager to win the Prestigious Premier Cup.

Currently, in his 18th season with Humber College, the Hawks were upset in the Bronze Medal game by Durham College. This was the first time since the 2000-01 season that the team did not make the podium.

Chris Wilkins coaching the Women’s Volleyball team at Humber College.

Chris Wilkins coaching the Women’s Volleyball team at Humber College.

What attracted you to the league?
The opportunity to get involved with Volleyball at an elite level that Canada hasn't seen before. The volleyball community has been lacking something like this for awhile now. Jaki and Jo's vision to create a competitive environment was absolutely exciting to me. 

What did you like the most over the last 2 seasons?
The spirit of competition was the most impressive thing. It challenged me as a Coach to do things at higher level and manage personalities in a short time frame to achieve a common goal.

What kind of opportunities do you see here for other coaches to get involved?  
This league is getting recognition world-wide. So if you’re looking to improve your Coaching database of knowledge and grow, this is an excellent league for that. It’s a league filled with athletes that absolutely love playing the game and will force you to challenge them to be better players which in turn will make you a better coach.

Chris Wilkins coaching the Galaxy All-Stars during the 2019 season

Chris Wilkins coaching the Galaxy All-Stars during the 2019 season

Chris will be making his return to the Galaxy team for the 2019 season as Head Coach and hopes to take his team all the way to the Premier Cup Finals this year!


Brenda Willis

I would encourage [other coaches] to get involved. It is highly competitive and lots of fun. There is also a ton of expertise in the participating athletes so, it may also be an opportunity to learn.
Brenda Willis

Brenda Willis

She was the ONLY female coach on the Varsity coaching staff at Queen’s University. She coached the Men’s Volleyball team for 31 years and upon her retirement from coaching, she had been coaching for 44 years. An incredible statement of her ability to perform and inspire athletes at an elite level of play.

During her time at Queens, she transformed the Men’s Volleyball team into one of the best teams in Canada. She is a 6x OUA Champion and a 5x Men’s Volleyball Coach of the Year.

In the summer of 2009, she was also the Head Coach of the National Maccabia Men’s Volleyball Team, earning bronze medal for Canada, the first men’s volleyball medal Canada has ever won in these games.

In 2018, she was the Head Coach of the Magnes Spartans Premier League team. The team made it to Finals against Bounce United where they lost a tight battle in the fifth set.

Brenda Willis coaching the Men’s Volleyball team at Queen’s University.

Brenda Willis coaching the Men’s Volleyball team at Queen’s University.

What attracted you to the League?
I was approached by Aaron Nusbaum [Magnes Spartans Owner] to coach for him. I had just retired from coaching at Queen’s University and had time on my hands, so I said yes.

What did you like during your time with the Premier League?
It was a good transition to retirement with one practice and one game every week instead of training every day. Plus, a lot of my former players were in the league, which was a lot of fun. Lastly, it offered an interesting challenge since it is the highest level of domestic volleyball in the country and a blend of younger players trying to get to the top of their game, older players who are past but trying to revive their best level, and pros who are looking to maintain their performance.

What kind of opportunities do you see here for other coaches to get involved?
I would encourage them to get involved. It is highly competitive and lots of fun. There is also a ton of expertise in the participating athletes so, it may also be an opportunity to learn. I found the role to be more of a GM, managing the roster and playing time and just making sure we were all playing one system and then it is just about the athletes building trust within the group.

The level of play is very high [in the Premier League] and there are lots of tremendous rallies, plus the athletes are very engaged so it is very exciting and entertaining. Young players can learn tons by coming out and watching. Practices are generally open too, which creates a great learning opportunity as well.

Brenda Willis coaching Magnes Spartans during the 2018 season

Brenda Willis coaching Magnes Spartans during the 2018 season

The efforts of Jaki and Jo to make this happen should be commended! Seeing professional volleyball in Canada is awesome!


The Premier League is looking for Head Coaches and Assistant Coaches this summer in Calgary and Toronto!

Join the highest level of volleyball participation and coaching in Canada* and gain valuable on-court coaching experience. Push your limits as a coach and learn HOW the pro’s want to be coached as they bring back valuable experiences from their contracts overseas. Apply this experience to your varsity/club season’s to accelerate growth with your athletes and programs.

Toronto and Calgary Premier League programs start May 11th and end July 21st. See Premier League website for full schedule and FAQ’s.

Toronto Schedule
Calgary Schedule

*Next to National Team Programming