2022 Intern Coach

Jessica Zelinka


  • Provide women intern coaches with ongoing mentorship from a qualified mentor coach, with a national or international coaching development opportunity, and enhanced professional development and learning opportunities
  • Connect all participating women intern and mentor coaches in an ongoing supportive network
  • Increase the number of high performance women coaches in Commonwealth sport in Canada

Intern Coach: Jessica Zelinka

“I will continue to be engaged with the CSC WCIP community and will be an advocate for women in sport initiatives because of my positive experience with this mentorship program.”

Sport: Athletics

Occupation: Jessica is the Head Coach, Track and Field and Cross Country at the University of Calgary (U of C).

Mentor Coach: Carmyn James

Athletic Background: Jessica competed for Canada from 2000 to 2016 and set multiple junior and senior records in heptathlon. A two-time Olympian, she posted a fourth-place finish in the heptathlon at the 2008 Games. At the 2012 Games, she finished in 6th place and was 5th in 100-metres hurdles. She was the heptathlon gold medallist at the 2007 Pan American Games and the silver medallist at the 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Education: Jessica graduated from the U of C in 2007 with a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in Communication and Culture. In 2018, she received a Master’s degree in Management Innovation and Entrepreneurship from Queen’s Smith School of Business. She also completed a professional speaking program through Dale Carnegie Training.

Coach Education: Jessica, whose hometown and current residence is Calgary, is completing the Performance Coach (sprints and hurdles) of the National Coaching Certification Program. In addition to completing Sport Coach and Aboriginal Sport certifications, she also has her Fitness Instructor Certification (HOME - canfitpro).

Why a Coaching Career? Coaching was a natural transition for Jessica given her national team experience as a combined-events athlete. Coaching provides a new and exciting challenge in the transference of her technical and experiential skills as a role model and teacher to her athletes. Throughout her athletic career, Jessica had the honour to work alongside distinguished coaches who understood how to bring out the best in their athletes. This work ethic inspires her in her own coaching pursuits.

Coaching Experience: Jessica was coach and facilitator for Calgary’s in-school and after-school programs; head coach of a Junior Development Club program; and a sprints, hurdles, and horizontal jumps coach. She has delivered track and field clinics and camps for youth to masters athletes, including developing a youth summer track and field camp where she led and managed coaches. Other coaching experiences include providing individual and group dryland training and functional athletic movements to hockey players and national team bobsleigh athletes. Jessica will gain valuable international experience as Athletics Canada’s (AC) sprints and hurdles coach at the 2022 World Athletics U20 Championships in Cali, Columbia.

Jessica is also a performance consultant specializing in mentorship, providing one-on-one and group sessions for athletes, professionals, and veterans. She created and designed a Track & Field Manual to assist clubs in designing a Youth Summer camp to fundraise and promote the sport.

An experienced speaker, Jessica has delivered keynote addresses to corporate, academic, and sport organizations. She is a podcast guest for reputable coaches, therapists, and health advocates.

As a volunteer, she was Athlete Representative for Combined Events on AC’s Board of Directors from 2011 to 2013. She has been a Fast and Female Ambassador (Fast and Female – Girl, You Got This!) and is a KidSport ambassador (KidSport Canada | So all kids can play) and a RBC Training Ground coach (RBC Training Ground | Welcome). 

Awards and Honours: In 2012, Jessica was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. In 2008, she received the Calgary Global Women of Vision Award. For nine years, she was Athletics Canada’s (AC) Athlete of the Year in multiple categories.

Importance of the CSC WCIP: Jessica describes the CSC WCIP is an incredible opportunity for like-minded women coach interns and their mentors to take part in a supportive and inspirational space to gain knowledge, experience, and connections that will open more doors for current and future women coaches.

After the CSC WCIP: “I will continue to be engaged with the CSC WCIP community and will be an advocate for women in sport initiatives because of my positive experience with this mentorship program. Being the first woman coach of a men’s program at the U of C is a platform that I recognizes as a way to promote the importance of creating opportunities for career-building coaching roles for women.”

Mentor’s Comment: “Despite having won several international medals and strong Olympic performances and over five years’ experience as a coach, Jessica wondered if she was qualified to apply for the head coach position at the U of C. Luckily for all of us, she was, and did.”