Dr. Leisha Strachan is a first-generation Black Canadian, proud daughter of Jerome and Margaret Strachan who immigrated to Winnipeg 53 years ago from the Caribbean island of Grenada. She is blessed to stand on the shoulders of elders in her family and Black community in Winnipeg who came to Winnipeg facing discrimination and racism yet remained for the opportunities that they foresaw for their children.

Dr. Strachan began her career as a physical educator after completing a Bachelor of Physical Education and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Manitoba. After teaching for three years at the K-8 level, she left teaching to pursue graduate school. She completed a Master of Human Kinetics at the University of Windsor (advisor – Dr. Krista Chandler) and a PhD in Sport Psychology at Queen’s University (advisors – Dr. Jean Côté and Dr. Janice Deakin). 

Currently, Dr. Strachan is a Professor and serving as Associate Dean Research and Graduate Studies in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management at the University of Manitoba. Her research is focused on positive youth development through sport and she is interested in exploring positive coaching behaviors and parent involvement. Along with Dr. Dany MacDonald and Dr. Jean Côté, she began Project SCORE, an online resource for coaches and parents to learn about the 4 Cs in sport (i.e., competence, confidence, connection, and character) and how the Cs could be incorporated to promote positive youth sport spaces. She is currently working on a SSHRC/Sport Canada research project evaluating Project SCORE. Further, Dr. Strachan is interested in cultural relevancy within the field of positive youth development and has recently completed a SSHRC-funded grant that explored the Cs through the voices of Indigenous youth. 

In addition, Dr. Strachan is part of a research team exploring anti-racism policies and practices in Winnipeg and the sport experiences of newcomers in the community. Her experiences in the field of sport psychology have also involved applied work, spending five seasons as a mental performance consultant with the University of Manitoba women’s soccer team.

She is a former national team member in the sport of baton twirling, earning 2 bronze medals at the world championships. She has been coaching in the sport for the past 26 years and is a judge and choreographer in baton, working with athletes across Canada, Scotland, England, and Australia. She continues to engage and develop the next generation through directing ANANSI School for the Performing Arts, a group working to teach African and Caribbean culture through the arts.


•    Doctor of Philosophy – Sport Psychology, Queen’s University (2008)
•    Master of Human Kinetics – Sport Psychology, University of Windsor (2004)
•    Bachelor of Education, University of Manitoba (1999)
•    Bachelor of Physical Education, University of Manitoba (1997)

Research Summary

  • Positive youth development
  • Sport participation
  • Children
  • Youth
  • Sport psychology

Recent Publications

Ferguson, L., McHugh, T-L.F., & Strachan, L. (accepted). Centering Indigenous voices and experiences to advance positive youth development in sport research. In N. Holt & M. McDonough (Eds.), Positive youth development through sport 3rd ed.. New York: Routledge.

Côté, J., Fraser-Thomas, J., & Strachan, L. (accepted). Youth involvement and positive development in sport. In P. R. E. Crocker, C. Sabiston, & M. McDonough (Eds.), Sport and exercise psychology: A Canadian perspective (5th edition). Pearson Canada.

Strachan, L., Fraser-Thomas, J., Kosmenko, N., & Brown, C. (2023). Exploring contextual factors influencing positive development through sport. In M. Toms & R. Jeanes (Eds)., Routledge Handbook of Coaching Children in Sport.

Bishop, E., Turgeon, S., Tang, W., Newman, T. J., Strachan, L., Bean, C., & Camiré, M. (2023). White privilege in Canadian high school sport: Investigating White coaches’ perspectives on social justice issues. Sports Coaching Review,

Camiré, M., Santos, F., Newman, T., Vella, S., MacDonald, D. J., Milistetd, M., Pierce, S., & Strachan, L. (2023). Positive youth development as a guiding framework in sport research: Is it time to plan for a transition? Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 69.

Brown, C., & Strachan, L. (2022). Exploring structure and culture in the lived acculturation experiences of newcomer varsity athletes in Manitoba. American Journal of Qualitative Research, 6(2), 133-147.

Camiré, M., Newman, T. J., Erickson, K., Bean, C., & Strachan, L. (2021). Reimagining positive youth development and life skills in sport through a social justice lens. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology. DOI: 10.1080/10413200.2021.1958954

Strachan, L., Santos, F., & MacDonald, D. J. (2020). Insights into creating and implementing Project SCORE!: Lessons learned and future pathways. Journal of Sport Psychology in Action.

Full research profile

Recent Highlights

2023 – Dr. Bert Carron Lecture, SCAPPS conference, Kingston, ON
2022 – R. Tait McKenzie Award, PHE Canada
2022 – Awardee, 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women 2022
2022 – Certificate of Recognition, NAfro Dance Productions
2022 – Nominee, Dr. Jack Hunt Award (Learn to Train) – Sport Manitoba
2019 – Lynda Garland Award of Excellence (Canadian Baton Twirling Federation)
2019 – Outstanding Support – Campus Life Program (University of Manitoba)
2019 – Coaching Manitoba Impact Award – International coaching recognition