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.

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.

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.

Although Nicholas’ athletic career was hockey based, as a mental performance coach he works with a wide variety of high-level individual sport athletes (skiers, fighters, climbers, kayakers, fencers, & golfers) as well as the traditional team sports like baseball and soccer players.

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
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.

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

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.

Education:

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

Education:

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

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.

Education:

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

Bryan McLaughlin
Mental Performance Coach

Bryan McLaughlin is a Certified Mental Performance Consultant®, 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.

Education:

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

Natasha Habert
Mental Performance Coach

Natasha Habert draws from her training in sport and performance psychology, personal experiences as a competitive athlete, and deep passion for consistent high performance. She is a lifelong athlete and high performer, excelling in volleyball as both a player and coach.

Natasha was involved in a variety of sports from an early age and fell in love with the competitive nature of each game, the teamwork and collaboration that was imperative for success, and the individual effort and dedication necessary to improve. Her greatest athletic passion was for the game of volleyball, where she played Division II at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. During this time, Natasha was awarded student-athlete of the year, the RMAC Summit Award (highest overall GPA in final competition), and still holds the career dig record for the university.

Since her volleyball career, Natasha went on to coach at highly competitive club and collegiate levels. Throughout her coaching career, she was able to impact elite athletes as young as 14 to 18 years old, eventually moving up to assisting the Women’s Volleyball team at Florida State University. During this time she was fortunate to have an impact on many athletes through helping them develop various athletic and life skills.

Natasha’s passion for competitive sports and love for psychology have guided her to studying and working in the field of sport psychology. Natasha’s mission is to help athletes and high performers develop the individualized tools and strong mindset that will help set them up for success, reach their full potential, and achieve consistent elite performance while enjoying the journey.

Education:

  • M.S. Sport Psychology, Florida State University
  • B.A. Psychology, University of Colorado Colorado Springs

Luciano Somerville
Mental Performance Coach

Luciano’s hockey career is highlighted by his time playing college at the University of Victoria and two professional seasons in Europe. Throughout his career, he struggled with performance anxiety, a lack of consistency, fluctuations in confidence, being caught in the results trap. This eventually led him to deviate from the main reason why anyone should play sports – for the enjoyment of the game. As a former athlete, Luciano has a unique understanding of the psychological pressures and struggles that athletes experience. 

Luciano now strives to integrate his experience as an elite athlete with his education in Counselling and Psychotherapy. He is extremely enthusiastic about the role of athletics in mental health and well-being and believes that performance in sports is inextricably linked with mental strength and resiliency. Luciano’s ultimate aim is to make a meaningful impact on his clients through a personalized coaching approach with evidence-based interventions that are tailored to the athlete’s specific needs and goals.

Education:

  • B.Sc., Biology and Psychology, University of Victoria
  • M.C., Counselling, City University of Seattle

Alexis Woloschuk
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.

Education:

  • BSc., Health Science, Boston University

Sean Mahoney
Mental Performance Coach

Sean Mahoney is a member of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP), and a Master’s candidate in the Sport and Performance Psychology program at the University of Denver. For as long as he can remember, Sean has been fascinated by human performance and how to gain an edge over the competition. For most of his athletic career, he focused on the physical aspect of performance but neglected the mental. Because of this, he struggled with performance anxiety, focus issues, and limiting beliefs pertaining to confidence and self-doubt. His lack of focus on optimizing his mental game prevented him from reaching his full potential.

Sean’s sport career began at a young age, but changed course after he suffered serious neck injury just before his senior year of high school. The injury caused him to retire from sport and set him on course for a long journey of injury recovery. This experience led him to realize the importance of the mental aspect of injury recovery, and ultimately the mental aspects of performance in general. Sean‘s unique life experiences have fuelled him with passion and drive to help others think, feel, and perform to the highest range of their capabilities as consistently as possible.

Sean has worked with youth, amateur, and professional athletes from a wide range of sports. Sean has worked with both teams and individuals and has experience working with adaptive sports and athletes with disabilities.

Education:

  • M.A. Sport & Performance Psychology, University of Denver
  • B.A. Psychology, Florida Atlantic University

Savannah Fitzgerald
Associate-Mental Performance Coach

Savannah Fitzgerald is earning her M.A. in Kinesiology, Sport Psychology Option at California State University, Fresno. Possessing an internal motor that fires her rage for success, Savannah forged this attribute over five years while competing as an NCAA D-I water polo player and swimmer. Combined with her opportunity to represent and compete for the United States, she feels that sport has significantly impacted her professional development. Due to her personal experience playing at all levels, Savannah’s passion for mental performance began when she struggled to overcome pre-competition nerves and post-competition processing. When she discovered a world out there that people were referring to as ‘sport psychology,’ she felt like a piece of her brain was unlocked. Reality shifted as she stumbled into a space consisting of the most beautiful blend of elite performance, mental well-being, and athletics.

Through her current research in confidence, self-efficacy, and mental skills training, her extensive athletic background, overcoming an uncontrollable switch in sport, and her knowledge of the post-collegiate sport identity process, Savannah is genuinely motivated by the notion of helping others consistently optimize their performance. She believes it is her responsibility to hold space for those who need it. Savannah’s goal is to earn her PhD in clinical psychology with a focus in sport psychology. She is dedicated to helping her clients achieve true greatness by breaking through their perceived barriers and embracing their challenges head on.

Education:

  • M.A., Kinesiology – Sport Psychology Option, California State University, Fresno (Currently enrolled)
  • BSc., Psychology, University of the Pacific

Erin Teschuk
Associate-Mental Performance Coach

Erin has been a professional track and field athlete since 2016 and had the honour of representing Canada as part of the 2016 Olympic Track & Field Team. Throughout her professional career, Erin struggled mentally to disconnect from results and allow herself to properly rest and recover. This resulted in chronic fatigue, energy deficiency, and anxiety around training and racing. Eager to reignite her passion for elite athletics, Erin decided it was time to work 1-on-1 with a mental performance coach. Since then, Erin has competed for Canada in the 5000m, 1500m and Cross Country, owing her recent success to her ability to cultivate strong mental performance practices.

Now, as a mental performance coach herself, Erin strives to utilize her elite experience and professional knowledge in sport psychology to help athletes optimize their performance and enhance their overall health and lifestyle in and out of sport. Although she specializes in individual and endurance sports, she still loves working with athletes of all sports and competitive backgrounds. Erin firmly believes that the most successful athletes are healthy, happy, and adaptable. She aims to instill this belief in every athlete she works with.

Education:

  • BSc Psychology, North Dakota State University
  • MA Kinesiology – Sport Psychology (in progress), York University 

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.

Education:

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

Max Stefanakos – Returning Aug 2024
Associate-Mental Performance Coach

Max is currently attending William James College, where he is earning a Doctorate Degree in Clinical Psychology and a Masters Degree in Professional Psychology. During his time as an undergraduate student, Max was inducted into the International Honor Society in Psychology (Psi Chi), and played on the Quinnipiac University men’s club ice 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. Playing junior hockey in the EHLP exposed Max to many different experiences in which he had to learn how to manage the pressures and expectations that came along with making it to the next level. His life experiences have inspired Max to pursue a career in Clinical 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 perform at their fullest potential, enjoy the game they love, and feel good about themselves – not only as an athlete but as a person as well.

Education:

  • PsyD, Clinical Psychology, William James College (Currently Enrolled)
  • M.A., Professional Psychology William James College (Currently Enrolled)
  • BSc., Psychology Major, Sports Studies Minor (Summa Cum Laude), Quinnipiac University

Blair Vandenheuvel
Office Manager & Associate Coach

Blair has over 13 years of experience as a Professional Dancer, Assistant Dance Captain & Cast Manager, as well as an additional 17 years of training. Over the last 3 decades, she has lived and experienced first hand the highest of highs & lowest of lows that come with pursuing a career in the Performing Arts. 

As an Mental Performance Coach with CEP Mindset, Blair is able to personally understand the pressure her athletes are dealing with leading into competitions & being judged, the fear that comes with learning new skills & tricks, and the confidence issues associated with physical appearance.

Blair’s mission in connecting with other performing artists is fueled by her passion for dance and helping them see that when you prioritize having a healthy and strong mind over results, you will be able to fully enjoy being an artist & achieving consistent elite performance.

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.

Education:

  • 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