Dr. Cassidy Preston
Founder & Mental Performance Coach

I played my minor hockey in North Bay, a small city in Northern Ontario, Canada, 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 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. But 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.

Dr. Cassidy Preston

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.

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 get on the score sheet and fell down the lineup quickly.

I started worrying more about points – this worry lead to tension and holding my stick too tight which made it even harder to get on the score sheet.

Things got worse around the 15 game mark into the season. I remember talking to the coach and he told me that since I still had no points 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. On one road trip up to Ottawa from Toronto I was all excited to get back 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 or as a person.

I had anticipated this season to be a high point in my career, but instead it felt like hitting rock bottom.

I was overwhelmed with disappointment and truly 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.

It took me 10 years of trial and error to develop a personalized mental game that worked for me.

I was often frustrated and discouraged as I struggled to filter through all the fluffy and cookie-cutter advice perpetuated in the sport culture.

I became obsessed with trying to crack the code on how to create personalized and practical strategies that delivered repeatable and reliable results for elite athletes and high-performers in all areas of life.

This passion drove me to take my lived experiences to academia where I earned my Ph.D. in Sport Psychology from York University. I’ve also studied and worked with world leaders in human performance such as Dr. John Demartini, T. Harv Eker, and Todd Herman.

As a result, I’ve spent the last 20 years of my life developing & refining the 3-Step CEP Mindset System that has helped 1000’s of athletes and high-performers win the Mental Game and achieve Consistent Elite Performance:

The tide has turned and people are embracing the importance of Mental Performance Coaching now more than ever.

This shift combined with our practical and personalized system that delivers repeatable and reliable results has propelled our team into one of the largest Mental Performance Coaching firms in North America.

We currently have a team of 12 Mental Performance coaches and counting – with the goal to help as many athletes and high-performers develop a mental game that works for them so they can consistently enjoy their journey and perform when it matters most.

Request Dr. Cassidy Preston for a Speaking Engagement

Nicholas Santino
Director of Coaching & Mental Performance Coach

Nicholas Santino is a Senior High-Performance Coach, PhD Candidate, and the official Mental Performance Consultant for Elite Prospects. 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.


  • 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
Read Nicholas’ Story

Chris DePiero
Mental Performance Coach

Chris is a Senior High-Performance Coach and 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.


  • 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

Adam Carter
Mental Performance Coach

Adam Carter is a High-Performance coach with a Masters of Arts, specializing in Applied Behaviour Analysis. 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, presenting at international conferences, and publishing research 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. He grew up in a competitive sports environment, playing sports such as hockey, soccer, football, and tennis, which has given him 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.


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

Dr. Steve LaFay
Mental 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.


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

Bryan McLaughlin
Mental Performance Coach

Bryan McLaughlin is a Professional Member of the Canadian Sport Psychology Association (CSPA) and PhD Candidate studying Talent Identification and Personality Psychology of Elite Athletes. Bryan has completed many research studies involving professional hockey players’ experience being called up and sent down within an organization, the retirement of elite hockey players, and the impact sports academies have on athletes. Bryan can leverage his research to assist current athletes in achieving their goals.

Bryan comes from a hockey background playing competitively growing up and working as a hockey instructor for 10+ years in the Greater Toronto Area. He can understand the nuances an athlete may experience either from his own experience or research. His goal is to help each athlete understand and implement evidence-based tools to assist in achieving consistent elite performance.


  • Ph.D.(c), Kinesiology – Sport Psychology, Ontario Tech University
  • MSc., Applied Health Sciences – Sport Psychology, Brock University
  • BA. (Hons.), Psychology, York University

Sara Reichenbach
Mental Performance Coach

A Native of Quebec, Sara was part of the St. Lawrence University women’s ice hockey team that competed in the NCAA Division 1 hockey league ECAC. During this time, Sara helped her team appear in four ECAC Hockey Tournaments and two NCAA Frozen Fours and was a four-time member of the ECAC Hockey All-Academic Squad. Following her career at St. Lawrence University, Sara played one year of professional hockey with Lugano.

Since her hockey career, Reichenbach has coached one season at the North American Hockey Academy in Vermont, two seasons at Mercyhurst College, two at the University of Maine, and three more seasons at Dartmouth College. She then returned to the University Maine, where she coached for another ten years before joining CEP Mindset.

Throughout her coaching career, Sara has had the opportunity to mentor and develop players from all over the world. As an NCAA coach, she has assisted athletes in competing in the Olympics with their respective National Teams. Sara’s love for coaching the game of hockey was surpassed by the love of helping her athletes consistently perform at their best by developing their mental skills, preparation, and ability to respond to challenges.


  • M.Sc.. Organizational Leadership, Mercyhurst College
  • B.Sc., Psychology and English, St. Lawrence University

Alexis Woloschuk
Associate-Mental 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.


  • BSc., Health Science, Boston University

Max Stefanakos
Associate-Mental 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


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

Gabriel Suessenbacher-Fu
Associate-Mental Performance Coach

Gabe is currently majoring in Psychology with a minor in Counselling Psychology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. With an interest in high-level baseball and soccer, Gabe ended up focusing on hockey. Most recently, Gabe played four years of junior hockey with the Richmond Sockeyes in the Pacific Junior Hockey League (PJHL) while also coaching minor hockey. Prior to junior hockey, Gabe played 3 years in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL) where he experienced the pressures and expectations of moving on to the next level. During those three years, Gabe constantly compared himself to others and struggled with coping when things did not go his way. Over time, he learned how to focus on his own process and path to the next level, while also developing strategies to improve well-being.

By having experiences as a player and a coach, Gabe has insight on what coaches think and what it’s like to be coached. In addition, Gabe hopes to use his academic knowledge in Psychology and Counselling to help understand each athlete’s unique experience in sport and help them achieve their desired mental performance goals.


  • BA., Psychology, University of British Columbia (currently enrolled)

Blair Vandenheuvel
Head of Administration & Associate Coach

Blair Vandenheuvel is the Head of Administration at CEP Mindset. As your first point of contact, Blair will have the privilege of hearing more about you, your sport and what has brought you to CEP.  

Blair began dancing at the age of 2 in her hometown of Milton, Ontario. She went on to graduate from Commercial Dance Studies and danced professionally on cruise ships from 2011-2020. During that time Blair also held leadership roles as Puppeteer Captain, Assistant Dance Captain & Playlist Cast Manager. 

Since returning home to “landlife”, Blair has launched her own fitness company, returned to dancing professionally, and is an Associate Coach at CEP Mindset. Blair’s professional and personal experiences have fueled her passion to help others reach their full potential with purpose, love, and resilience. 

James C. Nellis
Mental Performance Coach

James C Nellis is a Licensed Associate Counselor and High-Performance Coach who makes his home in Scottsdale Arizona. James’ expertise is in helping elite athletes, teams, and business professionals increase their performance, improve their understanding and relationship with self, and develop an overall sense of internal congruency and well-being.

James grew up as a highly successful athlete in the sports of hockey, golf, and baseball. Although James played all three sports at the highest levels in Canada, hockey became his main focus, but injuries ended his competitive playing career. James then turned his focus to business and launched a career in the financial services industry. He cofounded Regency Advisory Corporation in 2003, a financial services firm catering to high net worth business owners in Western Canada and sold the business in 2013 after a successful 10 years of serving clients. James’ focus since then has been personal development and working to help others. His ability to honestly self asses, to be open to feedback from others, make sound decisions, listen to an assess the needs of others, and communicate his intentions directly are his greatest strengths. James works with my clients to deliver key strategies and tactics helping them to develop in the areas of self-confidence, communication, process focus and growth mindsets, achieve their personal goals, understanding positive self-talk, develop visualization skills, accountability, and self-efficacy.


  • BA., University of Saskatchewan, Finance and Marketing
  • MA., Grand Canyon University, Science of professional Counseling, Trauma and Sports focus
  • Certified Psychotherapist in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Certified Psychotherapist in Dialectical Behavioral therapy