When times get tough, the coaches get going

September 23, 2015

Weeks before he reached the top podium step at the 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi, Josh Dueck was in a real funk.  The Vernon, B.C. resident was injured, his equipment wasn’t satisfactory – in fact the now-retired sit-skier felt like putting that all-important season to rest.

It is these sorts of difficult periods where a coach can make the difference. For Dueck it was national para-alpine coach Jean-Sébastien Labrie who veered him back on the course towards the grand finale of his career.

‘’In the last year of my ski racing career, when I was at an all-time low and ready to throw in the towel, Jean-Sébastien did the impossible,’’ said Dueck.  ‘’We worked through injury and equipment failure in the most demanding conditions and with near surgical precision he had me peak at the exact moment I needed to, in Sochi 2014.’’

These are the types of stories that often go unrecognized and National Coaches Week, being held September 19-27 by the Coaching Association of Canada is an opportunity to highlight these important people behind an athlete’s success.

‘’For me, I love to ski, plain and simple,’’ added Dueck.  ‘’I have been blessed by a few great coaches that provided me with the tools needed to progress myself beyond what I ever thought possible.’’

Saskatchewan’s Rick Reelie was one of Canada’s most successful Paralympic athletes in track and field.  He is now turned to coaching and his impact he being felt and appreciated by numerous athletes including recent Parapan Am Games multi-medallists Becky Richter and Ilana Dupont

"Rick has had such a positive impact on the person I am today,’’ said Dupont.  ‘’We have been working together for over 10 years now. He knows when to listen and when to push on through tears, pain, uncertainty and fear. We have had highs and lows, celebrated victory together and regrouped when things did not go as planned."

Veteran national wheelchair basketball player Tracey Ferguson says a coach gives athletes an opportunity ‘’to dream’’.

‘’Any athlete knows, that without great coaching in their lives, they would never have the chance to win,’’ said the Erin, Ont., resident.  ‘’I am incredibly grateful for the coaches I have had over my career, from my junior days with Joe Millage and Steve Bialowas, my university days with Brad Hedrick and Marty Morse, my athletics days with Peter Eriksson and the national wheelchair basketball team with Tim Frick and now led by Bill Johnson.’’

Both Paralympic swimmer Benoit Huot of Montreal and judoka Priscilla Gagné of Ottawa also paid tribute to their coaches.

‘’It's an art to be a good coach and without them, it would be impossible to realize our objectives,’’ said Huot. ‘’We thank them for all their passion, investment and dedication to our lives and sport.’’

‘’I would not have been successful without my two wonderful coaches Andrzej  Sadej and Nathalie Gosselin guiding me every step of the way,’’ said Gagné.  ‘’Their patience, their willingness and their knowledge has served me well and says a lot about them.’’

For more information on National Coaches Week visit: http://coach.ca/coach.ca/national-coaches-week-s17020