National Coaches Week is a time to celebrate the positive impact coaches have on athletes and their communities across Canada. The annual campaign is an opportunity to recognize coaches for the integral role they play by taking the time to say #ThanksCoach.
2020 was supposed to be a big year for our junior and senior national teams with three world events scheduled to take place. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing pandemic, all events have either been cancelled or postponed. All national team coaches have put in countless hours of their time to plan prospect camps, tryouts, team selection, and practices for athletes across the country- this is no easy feat even for the experienced coaches. Ultimate Canada would like to recognize the hard work and dedication that all Team Canada coaches have given in preparation for the World Ultimate and Guts Championships. To learn more about each coach, we asked them to answer a series of questions.
Team Canada Women
Head Coach: Carla DiFilippo (ON)
Favourite coaching memory: It’s impossible to pick one specific memory. There are far too many special moments from coaching. For me, coaching is unbelievably rewarding. Through coaching, I’ve met some of the most talented and passionate people in the world! It’s easy to pick moments of success as a favourite memory, but it really is about the journey, the process, the act of becoming a team. It’s beautiful and special. And yes, winning is really, really fun!
Advice for new coaches: Try to be okay with making mistakes and asking for help. It’s really hard to ‘start’ coaching and sometimes you are chock-full of self-doubt. The fact that you even want to give back says something about your character and desire to make the world better. You CAN do it and it doesn’t have to be perfect. All we can do is our best. Just like being an athlete, you learn through experiences and there is always another game to improve.- Also have a season plan with goals. Know what you want ahead of time and work towards those goals all season. That is your anchor.
One thing that you have learned in 2020: Reflecting on language, policies and frameworks to make sport more inclusive. I want to make Ultimate available to everyone, and 2020 really showed me that the time is now and we must do better. I also learned how much I love sport, Ultimate and our community. As the saying goes “you don’t know what you got until it’s gone”. Joni Mitchell was right!
A coach that you look up to or admire: I don’t have specific coaches but I watch many coaches from many sports and gather my inspiration from all them. There is always something to learn from the house league coach to my co-workers at school, to my competitors’ teams, to the NCAA or professional coaches. Social media has made it easier to be inspired and to learn!
Assistant Coach: Alison “Fish” Fischer (QC)
Favourite coaching memory: One of my favourite coaching memories occurred at CUC 2017 when all our careful planning was thrown out the window due to the inclement weather. Instead of going over strategy or game tape during our downtime, we decided to watch Remember the Titans together. Maybe it was just a case of right place, right time, but something about that film provided the inspiration the team needed to go out and win the bronze medal and earn a bid to WUCC 2018 (our team goal). Iris played so well in our game for third place that the coaches essentially just sat back and enjoyed the show. That moment underscored for me how opportunities for growth and development can happen anywhere, not just on the field.
Advice for new coaches: I still consider myself a new coach, but one of the most important things I’ve learned over the past three years is that coaching is a team effort. Ask for help, read books, have discussions, and reach out to other coaches with questions. Learning doesn’t stop when you become a coach, and collaboration is vital to success.
One thing that you have learned in 2020: For me, the events of 2020 have served as a reminder that playing/coaching ultimate is a privilege that should not be taken for granted.
A coach that you look up to or admire: There are many coaches whom I admire, but there are three women in particular who inspire and challenge me to be better and do better: Iza Lemay, Audrey St-Arnaud and Carla DiFilippo.
Team Canada Open
Head Coach: Matthew Berezan (BC)
Favourite coaching memory: My favourite coaching moments are the breakthrough moments at practice. While performing well or winning tournaments is exciting, I find that excitement fleeting. What keeps me motivated as a coach is seeing development happen at practice. Whether it’s an individual learning a new skill or the team figuring out a new tactic, these are the moments that hook me as a coach. These are all the building blocks that go into stellar performances and winning games.
Advice for new coaches: Know your strengths and collaborate with those around you. You won’t have all the answers. Focus on understanding what you know well and what you can contribute and then lean on others to fill out the gaps. Everyone has valuable insights to share, but don’t always get the opportunity to. By empowering the people around you, coaches or athletes, the team will benefit from a greater wealth of knowledge. And you will get the opportunity to learn and grow.
One thing that you have learned in 2020: If it’s not important don’t worry about it! It’s a lesson I’ve had to learn over and over again, but the birth of my daughter this year has really hammered it home. I don’t have time or energy to spend on things that I don’t control or don’t make a difference.
A coach that you look up to or admire: Being coached by Jeff Cruickshank on the 2013 World Games team was eye-opening. I learned so much from him, and not just about tactics or technical skills. As a coach, he was forthright and honest, created a supportive team culture, and made me feel an important part of the team even though I did not make the final competition roster. I’ve tried to carry over those lessons into my own coaching.
Assistant Coach: Alex Davis (BC)
Team Canada Mixed
Head Coach: Dan Turcotte (QC)
Favourite coaching memory: My most memorable experience as a coach is not just a moment in my career I must say. Although there have been some great moments, great victories and great accomplishments, what I always remember are extra-ordinary teams. No matter what we achieved, no matter what level of competition the team was in. What makes me the happiest and proudest is when the synergy happens!!!! It’s when everything fits together in a natural way, when each individual on the team finds his role, accepts it and plays it the best way possible. It is when the commitment is so great on everyone’s part that the team becomes larger than life, where a certain mystique appears. I’ve experienced this with several teams, here are some of them in the world of Ultimate: Gecko 2013, TCX U23 2015, Team Colombia WG 2017 and Euforia 2018. These experiences are what drives me to continue my commitment to coaching. Currently, despite the situation with COVID, I am putting all my efforts so that the mystique will once again take place with my superb team that is TCX 2020…Crossing fingers it will become TCX 2021.
Mon expérience la plus mémorable en tant qu’entraineur ne se résume pas seulement à un moment dans ma carrière je dois dire. Bien qu’il y ait eu de beaux moments, de belles victoires et de grands accomplissements, ce qui me reste toujours comme souvenir ce sont certaines équipes extra-ordinaires. Peu importe le résultat que nous ayons obtenus, peu importe le niveau de compétition dans lequel l,équipe était. ce qui me rend le plus heureux et le plus fier c’est lorsque la synergie s’opère!!! C’est lorsque tout s’imbrique sans de manière naturelle, lorsque chaque individu dans l’équipe trouve son rôle, l’accepte et le jour du mieux de son être. C’est lorsque l’engagement est si grand de la part de tous que l’équipe devient plus grande que nature, là où une certaine mystique apparaît. J’ai vécu ça avec plusieurs équipes en voici quelques unes dans le monde du Ultimate: Gecko 2013, TCX U23 2015, Team Colombia WG 2017 et Euforia 2018. C’est nombreuses expériences sont ce qui me pousse à continuer mon engagement dans l’entraînement d’équipe. Présentement, malgré la situation je mets tous mes efforts afin que la mystique s’opère une fois de plus avec ma superbe équipe qu’est TCX 2020…. On se croise les doigts pour un TCX 2021.
Advice for new coaches: My best suggestions for any new coach are the following. In my opinion, a coach needs to be a great listener, be able to surround himself with positive people who want to move things forward and be a person who likes to collaborate. The coach must know how to approach problems in challenge mode as if we were playing chess: planning, anticipating, organizing, listening, analyzing, preparing, acting, ADAPTING and REActing.
Mes meilleures suggestions pour tout nouvel entraîneur sont les suivantes. Selon moi, un coach doit faire preuve d’une grande écoute, être capable s’entourer des gens positifs et qui veulent faire avancer les choses et être une personne qui aime collaborer. L’entraîneur doit savoir aborder les problèmes en mode défis, comme si on jouait aux échecs soit: planifier, anticiper, s’organiser, scouter, analyser, se préparer, agir, S’ADAPTER et RÉAGIR.
One thing that you have learned in 2020: This year I learned even more that you have to take advantage of the present moment, to always do your best no matter what the situation. adapt, adapt, adapt and accept that you have to let go sometimes in order to move forward better.
Cette année j’ai appris encore plus qu’on doit profiter du moment présent, de faire toujours de son mieux peu importe la situation. s’adapter, s’adapter s’adapter et accepter qu’il faut savoir lâcher prise parfois pour mieux avancer.
A coach that you look up to or admire: Over the course of my career I have had the chance to meet several coaches who have been mentors for me. Some of them come from the sports world, while others are from the education and arts sectors. There are two in particular that have had a major impact on my approach to coaching. The first is Phil Jackson, Basketball Bulls and Lakers Coach. He keeps things simple, trusts his players, but is demanding with them while being human. He is also a great communicator, which has allowed him to bring very different players to work together in the pursuit of great goals. The second is Mauricio Moore, coach of Team Colombia WG 2017 and Revolucion. Great communicator and super motivator. He taught me the importance of bringing strong images, values and metaphors to engage the athletes in their process. He is another coach who is very demanding with his athletes. He asks them for self-sacrifice and total commitment to their team, which allowed him to bring Colombia to the 2nd place in the world of Ultimate in 2017.
Au cours de ma carrière j’ai eu la chance de rencontrer plusieurs coachs qui ont été des mentors pour moi. Certains proviennent des milieux sportifs alors que d’autres sont du milieu de l’éducation ou encore des arts. Il y en a deux plus particulièrement qui ont eu un impact capital dans mon approche du coaching. Le premier c’est Phil Jackson Coach des Bulls et Lakers au Basketball, Il garde les choses simples, fait confiance à ses joueurs, mais est exigeant avec eux tout en étant humain. Il est également un communicateur hors pairs ce qui lui a permis d’amener des joueurs très différents à travailler ensemble dans la poursuite de grands objectifs.
Le second est Mauricio Moore, entraîneur de Team Colombia WG 2017 et de Revolucion. Grand communicateur et super motivateur. Il m’a appris l’importance d’amener des images fortes, des valeurs et des métaphores pour engager les athlètes dans leur démarche. Il est un autre entraîneur qui est très exigeant avec ses athlètes. Il leur demande une abnégation et un engagement total envers leur équipe ce qui lui a permis d’amener la Colombie au 2e rang mondial du Ultimate en 2017.