Chantal Vallee is one of the many successful women in Windsor who was interviewed for studio II’s short documentary film Her Windsor. She is the women’s basketball coach at the University of Windsor and initially came to the city for employment.
— Her Windsor (@HerWindsor) March 19, 2017
“At the time I was in Montreal looking for employment, I had finished a masters degree on how to be a successful program, how to be a successful enterprise. Specifically, it focused on team sports,” says Vallee. She mentions that when the job opportunity presented itself, she applied and has been very successful in Windsor ever since.
Vallee has been the coach of the women’s team for the past eleven seasons and has been recognized for several prominent awards – she was recently named to CAAWS Most Influential list, an organization that promotes women in the world of sports.
When Vallee first learned about the study conducted by the Canadian centre for Policy Alternatives, which ranked Windsor, Ontario as the worst place for women to live in the country, she was in disbelief. “I don’t know why that stat came through, and certainly it has not been my experience so I was surprised by it,” shares Vallee.
She acknowledges that the field of work she is currently in is dominated by men, however, she does not believe that the lack of females in sports is strictly related to Windsor. “The challenges as a female in my line of work has nothing to do with the city,” Vallee explains.
“Even my parents said, girls don’t do this.” she adds. Vallee says that statement was strange for her because growing up she believed she could be anything she wanted.
As a young woman, she would look on tv or in the media and did not see many female role models in sports, she saw mostly male athletes and male coaches for female sports.
“I think that there are very few women who become coaches, truthfully in our school, I am the only full-time female coach. It’s a field that is very male dominated, but that’s not particular to Windsor, it’s the way it is across the country and across the world,” Vallee tells. She says that in the Canadian contingent there are nine female coaches compared to the vast majority of male coaches.
Chantal Vallee hasn’t had many opportunities to make friends with other female coaches, while the male coaches always got along: “Well, the guys they hangout together, they go for beers together, they play golf together, and women coaches aren’t involved in that,” she says.
Vallee says her line of work can be lonely, but her life in Windsor has nothing to do with the gender bias in competitive sports. “For me, personally it has been a huge blessing to be here and I couldn’t be happier. Windsor has this incredible sweet place in my heart,” says Vallee.
Coach Valle says that Windsor is the place where she has established a career, and that the city has been good to the women the players she’s coached as well, some of the women she’s coached have become olympians.
“In terms of how we have been recognized by our own university, our own city, by our own community, I mean, Mayor Drew Dilkens has given us the key to the city,” she says.
The fact that a women’s team and a women’s coach were given the keys to the city is a positive for Windsor, according to Vallee. She believes the opportunities for women in the city are outstanding.
“I couldn’t be happier, and feel more welcome and supported by the city of Windsor.”
See Chantal Vallee at 13:53 in Her Windsor documentary film: