Dr. Cassidy Preston
Founder & High-Performance Coach

I played my minor hockey in North Bay, Ontario, and, like many kids, my emotions got the best of me at times. I’d slam my stick, doubt myself, get frustrated, and overthink. I went into slumps, I took retaliation penalties, and rode the emotional roller coaster of highs and lows.

However, I worked hard and I was fortunate enough to go in the 4th round of the OHL draft and went on to play 5 years of junior hockey, have a short stint in Pro hockey, and finished my career with 5 years of University hockey.

Throughout my career, I was so focused on outcomes (e.g., points) and I worried about what others thought (e.g., coaches, parents, teammates, scouts) which often caused me to tense up, get derailed, and underperform. For example, in my last year of junior hockey, I put up 74 points in 49 games. In 20 of those games I didn’t get a single point, while in the other 29 games, I almost always got a point in the first period. The lesson being: that when I didn’t get success early in games, I’d start on a downward spiral of getting frustrated and tense, then I’d play worse and get even more frustrated and so on.

Dr. Cassidy Preston

The hardest year of my career was my first year in the OHL. I was extremely excited that I had made it to the OHL and I had big expectations for myself. I can still clearly remember being on the starting lineup in the season opener. But things didn’t go the way I expected. I didn’t produce and fell down the lineup quickly. I started worrying about not producing, which made me hold my stick too tight and made it even harder to produce points. I remember it being about 15 games in and I still had no points, the coach came and told me it was going to be hard for me to get much playing time moving forward. I was healthy scratched 34 games that season and when I did play I’d only get a handful of shifts. I remember we took a road trip up to Ottawa from Toronto and I was all excited that I was in the lineup but come game time, I didn’t get one shift. I sat on the bench the whole game!

In short, I finished the season with 0 points and I was devastated. It was incredibly hard to have any confidence as a hockey player and person.

I even considered quitting hockey.

However, I was able to overcome these adversities and many more like them (e.g., broken jaw & getting sent down) to be able to finish my career successfully. But this took 10 years of struggle, frustration, and trial & error because I didn’t have enough guidance. In short, I learned how to strengthen my mental toughness the hard way.

Mental toughness is incredibly important, but the problem that I experienced and many athletes currently do is that it’s not easy to work on because it is not tangible, especially if you try to do it on your own. This is why one of the core values that I have is to find simple solutions to abstract problems. This drove me to earn my Ph.D. in Sport Psychology from York University.

Now I am a full-time Sport & Performance Psychology Coach and I use my education, playing career, and coaching experiences to guide hockey players daily to clearly understand what mental skills they need to work on and exactly how to strengthen their mental toughness. This way you don’t have to learn the long and difficult way like I did.

The last thing I want to share is that mental toughness is the key to unlocking your potential. Most players are investing a lot in their physical and technical skills, but are underperforming because they have not invested enough in their mental toughness.

Nicholas Santino
High-Performance Coach

Nicholas Santino is a PhD Candidate at York University in the School of Kinesiology and Health Science. From his specialized psychology research program, to his PhD studies, Nicholas has gained a tremendous foundation of knowledge and appreciation for the human experience. His passion for psychology has accumulated to a commitment to studying and applying positive psychology and stoicism. This commitment has led Nicholas to conduct many research studies focusing on understanding why and how some people thrive and prosper while others do not. His admiration for evidence-based solutions has propelled Nicholas to produce studies revolving around mindfulness, grit (perseverance and passion), performance, quality participation, social relationships, and well-being.

Nicholas’s devotion to Psychology is equal to his love of sport. Growing up in the Greater Toronto Area, Nicholas played competitive hockey and was greatly influenced by watching his brother excel through Junior A and NCAA hockey. Nicholas is devoted to mobilizing his knowledge of psychology to help athletes and all people live happy and fulfilling lives, reach their utmost potential, and achieve consistent elite performance.

Education:

  • Ph.D.(c), Kinesiology and Health Science, York University
  • M.Sc., Kinesiology and Health Science, York University
  • B.Sc.,  Specialized Honours in Psychology (Magna Cum Laude), York University

Chris DePiero
High-Performance Coach

Chris has spent the past 30+ years in the game of hockey as a player, Head Coach, General Manager, scout, mentor, consultant and most importantly as a parent. He has done so in the NHL, with Hockey Canada, in the OHL and the OHA, as well as European pro hockey. In addition, he has spent 15+ years as a classroom teacher as well as being in leadership positions as an administrator with a private high school in Toronto. All these experiences have allowed Chris to be able to work with, lead, coach, mentor, advise, and consult with various personalities, ultimately gleaning some championship habits along the way.

Chris has coached over 100 players who have played and/or been drafted into the NHL, and 100+ players who have gone on to play NCAA or USport hockey. His passion for working with athletes and his vast experiences have provided him with countless ‘real life’ examples of what High Performance looks like. He has won multiple championships as a Head Coach and GM, notably winning a Stanley Cup ring from being a member of the scouting staff of the Pittsburgh Penguins from 2012-2016.

Chris is a voracious reader who is often referring to the books he has read to aid those he works with, and is a lifelong student of coaching, leadership, high performance, human nature, and development, as well as anything that involves sports.

His personal purpose is to provide athletes, coaches, executives, and organizations with the ability to be high performers and helping them grow into their peak potential.

Education:

BPHE, University of Toronto

B.Ed., OISE/University of Toronto

High Performance Leadership Certificate (Organizational Behaviour), Cornell University

Certified Leadership Coach, John Maxwell Leadership Group

Chris DePiero Pic

Steve LaFay
High-Performance Coach

Dr. Steve LaFay is a practicing chiropractor, teacher, and published author who has studied psychology and human performance for 30 years.  He brings a career full of experience helping patients, clients and businesses excel and express their unique potential with an inside – out approach.

Dr. Steve’s love of sports began early playing hockey for St. Andrew’s College before going on to study psychology at the University of Western Ontario where he began coaching minor hockey as a student and continued for many years.  He discovered his passion for coaching hockey players in a one on one setting by helping his nephew excel in the OHL/AHL/ECHL and in Europe.

His inspiration to help athletes unleash their inner greatness, live fulfilling lives and love the journey to achieving consistent elite performance is his driving force.

Education:

  • D.C., Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College
  • B.A., Psychology, University of Western Ontario
Steve LaFay

Kyle Bergh
Associate-Performance Coach

Kyle is currently studying Psychology at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, where he competes on the men’s hockey team as well. Prior to SFU, Kyle played 4 years of Junior hockey, including two years at the Jr. A level in the Maritime Hockey League (MJAHL). During this time, Kyle went through many obstacles that challenged his mental toughness, including returning from multiple injuries. Throughout this process, Kyle had to learn ways to get out of his own way in order to play and feel his best. Kyle now hopes to help athletes do the same by combining his academic knowledge with his playing experience.
In addition to Psychology, Kyle is pursuing a double minor in Counselling and Human Development, as well as Educational Psychology. This provides Kyle with insight into the learning process, as well as the complexity of human development. Kyle also supplements various philosophical teachings into his practice, such as Buddhism and Stoicism to support intrinsic growth. Lastly, having experienced multiple long-term concussions, Kyle is passionate about anxiety management, as well as health and wellness practices to help individuals live in the present moment more often.

Dr. Meghan Harlow
High-Performance Coach

Dr. Meghan Harlow is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at York University, having recently completed her PhD at York with a focus on Positive Youth Development through sport. Previously, Meghan attained her Masters in Human Kinetics from the University of Ottawa in their applied Consultation and Intervention in Sport Program, preceded by a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at Western University.

Meghan is a former National Level gymnast, born and raised in the Toronto area. She draws from her own unique experience in sport when relating to and working with youth athletes. Through teaching invaluable mental skills, Meghan hopes to optimize youth athletes’ performance and enjoyment in sport.

Meghan is also currently a part-time professor at Humber College, teaching applied Sport Psychology.

Adam Carter
Associate-Performance Coach

Adam Carter is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), issued by the Behavior Analytic Certification Board (BACB). From his research and coursework in psychology and behavior analysis, Adam has gained an invaluable insight into the interaction between the human mind and body. His love for these subjects has led to conducting research on eliminating anxiety-based behaviors in children during fearful situations, as well as a published research article in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis.

Adam’s desire to pursue these research areas and his love for sport has cultivated in his passion to be a mental-performance coach. Through growing up in a competitive sports environment, including playing competitive team sports (hockey, soccer) and individual sports (boxing, tennis), he has as a rich history in both helping himself and others through mental struggles. His biggest passion as a coach is to help unlock the full potential of an athlete – which is so often hindered by a lack of mental skills. He believes in the devotion to practicing mental skills just as much as one would practice physical skills.

Education:

  • B.A., Honours in Psychology, Neuroscience, & Behaviour and Economics, McMaster University
  • M.A., Specialization in Applied Behaviour Analysis, Brock University

Alexis Woloschuk
Associate-Performance Coach

Alexis is a professional female hockey player, Kaizen Sports representative, and former NCAA athlete who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our athletes. At a young age she allowed external factors to influence her game, resulting in her struggling to find confidence and consistency on the ice. As she began climbing the ranks as an athlete, she quickly realized that her confidence and mental toughness needed to be developed to compete at the highest level. As a professional athlete she has now developed a passion to help other athletes master their performance and excel on their journey through sport.

Education:

  • BSc., Health Science, Boston University

Max Stefanakos
Associate-Performance Coach

Max is currently majoring in Psychology with a minor in Sports Studies at Quinnipiac University, where he also plays on the men’s club hockey team. Playing goalie since the age of five, Max has developed an enhanced perception of the stressors and pressures that athletes not only put on themselves, but those placed on them by others. Max has always tried his best to be a leader on and off the ice, which led him to becoming captain of his high school Varsity team his senior year – a rare honour as many goalies do not get that opportunity. Playing junior hockey in the Premier Division of the Eastern Hockey League (EHLP) exposed Max to many different experiences in which he had to learn how to manage the pressures and expectations that come along with making it to the next level. His life experiences have inspired Max to pursue a career in Sports Psychology, as he believes no athlete should ever feel the way he did while trying to make their dreams a reality. Max’s overall goal is to help athletes however he can so they can perform at their fullest potential

Education:

  • BSc., Psychology, Quinnipiac University (currently enrolled)