Okanagan Gymnastics Coach Takes a Big Leap into High Performance Coaching Program at UBC


At just 25 years old, Jesse Jakins boasts quite the resume. She’s the Cross-training Coordinator and Competitive WAG Coach at Okanagan Gymnastics (OGC), holding NCCP certifications in Level 3 Women’s Artistic Gymnastics, Level 3 Trampoline and Foundations Active Start. Add Level 1 National Judge to her list of qualifications, and it’s no wonder this super-coach was recently accepted into the University of British Columbia’s High Performance Coaching and Technical Leadership (HPC & TL) Program.

Despite her impressive credentials, Jesse’s acceptance into this prestigious program didn’t come easy—or without its share of doubts. The program typically requires applicants to have a Bachelor’s Degree, 5 years of coaching experience, Level 3 NCCP qualification and a recommendation from a National Sport Organization. Jesse ticked all of the boxes except for one—the Bachelor’s Degree—which cast some doubt on her chances of getting in. She actually didn’t get in on her first try—but what’s a small setback to a gymnast? She dusted herself off, applied again, and got in—making her the only gymnastics coach in British Columbia to have accomplished this feat.

Jesse knows that getting into the program is only half the battle. As its name suggests, the High Performance Coaching and Technical Leadership Program is intense; endorsed by the Coaching Association of Canada and The Canadian Sport Institute Pacific, it’s a one-year graduate certificate program that blends research with applied coaching practice.

We asked Jesse what it would take for other gymnastics coaches to be accepted into the program. Her answer, in a word: persistence.

Jesse was drawn to the HPC & TL program for its strong academics, commitment to advancing Canadian sport, and top-notch roster of instructors (including her mentor, Dr. Shaunna Taylor). She also loves the program’s flexibility: it’s part-time and mostly online, with a schedule designed for working professionals.

While juggling work and school will be a tricky balance, Jesse is looking forward to the program’s practical assignments. One such assignment requires her to make a change to the coaching system in which she currently works. She’s excited for the opportunity to make a positive contribution to Okanagan Gymnastics, otherwise known as her “happy place.”

We asked Jesse what it would take for other gymnastics coaches to be accepted into the program. Her answer, in a word: persistence. Getting into the program is competitive, and could take multiple tries. Applicants will need to complete a pre-application procedure, write a statement of purpose and get a letter of recommendation from Gymnastics Canada—in addition to meeting the certification requirements. Jesse says it helps to get the support of Gymnastics BC and have a clear idea of intended research topics. A supportive network is also key; she credits much of her acceptance into the program to the mentorship of the right people.

As for what’s next once the program is over, Jesse is considering her next move. She still wants to pursue gymnastics in the Okanagan, and continue working with the great athletes and coaches at OGC. She’d also love to explore technical leadership or a role in a Provincial Sport Organization.

Regardless of where her career takes her, Jesse’s commitment to advancing her skills—and her sport—lays the foundation for a bright future. She believes that many great coaches will result from this program. We can already name one.

To learn more about the High Performance Coaching and Technical Leadership Program at UBC, visit: or contact Jeff Thomson, Coaching Education and Development Manager at Gymnastics BC (