Volume 12 Week 5

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Senior Boys Volleyball
Veteran high school volleyball coach calling it a day
By Fred Sherwin
OrleansOnline,ca

This weekend will mark the end of one of the most successful volleyball coaching careers in the National Capital Secondary School Athletic Association (NCSSAA) as Béatrice-Desloges senior boys coach Chantal Lefebvre guides the Bull-Dogs in her final trip to the OFSAA provincial championships.

Lefebrve has been coaching boys volleyball for the past 30 years. She began her career at Collège catholique Samuel-Genest in 1986 and made the move to Béatrice-Desloges when the French Catholic board high school opened in 10 years later.

The Béatrice-Desloges Bull-Dogs are heading to the OFSAA provincial championships this weekend after placing second in the NCSSAA.. Fred Sherwin/Photo

During her 20 years at B-D, Lefebvre has taken a team to OFSAA 10 times. The closest she came to winning a provincial championship was in 2008 when the Bull-Dogs lost in the AAA semi-finals. That was the same year Lefebvre lost her husband, Marcel Boudreau, in a car accident.

She managed to make it through that difficult period in her life, thanks in large part to the relationship she had, and still has, with her players who she affectionatly refers to as her “petit poussins”, or little chicks in English.

“For sure, she’s like a mother hen,” says team captain Mathew Gaerke.

Going back to the year the Bull-Dogs made it to the OFSAA semi-finals, it was her little chicks who helped her deal with the tragic loss of her husband.

“The kids I can honestly say made me hang in there. After the accident happened they really wanted to be there for me. It was like, ‘What can we do Madame?’, ‘Is there anything you need.’ I remember one day they even made an apple crisp. As much as I give to them they give me back so much more, you have no idea,” Lefebvre said.

The one principle she’s consistently instilled in her players is team work and the concept that as individuals they can only go so far, but together they can accomplish anything.

“She is more than a coach. She is like our second mother,” former Bull-Dog captain André Bégin said during their 2008 silver medal run. That sentiment is shared by every player Lefebvre has ever coached. In fact, a number of players still call her to see how she’s doing and even invite themselves over for a BBQ once in a while.

A tradition Levebrve started early in her high school coaching career and has continued all through the years is to have her players over for Christmas dinner.

“I’ve never been as close to a coach in my life,” says Gaerke who has played for Lefebrve for the past three years.

The 2016 Bull-Dogs may not be as athletically blessed as some of Lefebvre’s past teams, but what they lack in natural ability they make up for through sheer hard work.

‘It’s not always about numbers,” says Lefebvre. “It’s about team bonding... it’s about team spirit.. it’s about working hard and learning good values. These guys have been working really, really hard to get to where they are now.”

This year’s OFSAA provincial champ-ionships are being played in Windsor with action getting underway on Nov. 24.

The Bull-Dogs earned their spot in the tournament by virtue of the fact that the city champions from Franco-Cité are also the defending provincial champions which gave the NCSSAA an extra berth at OFSAA.

Lefebrve is realistic about her team’s chances heading into the tournament.

“I think the podium maybe out of reach as far as this team goes. But OFSAA is not always about medals. It’s about living the OFSAA experience to the fullest. The banquet. The team bonding. It’s a special time for these guys.”

As for what the future holds, Lefebrve says she plans to do a lot of travelling and go backpacking, but she will miss the joy and satisfaction that coaching brought to her life.

“The guys. They’re magic. They’re special. That’s what I’ll miss,” says Lefebvre. “That special comraderie. That special bond we get to enjoy as coaches. That’s what I’ll miss the most.”

And the players will miss you too Madame Lefebvre.

(Posted 9 p.m., Nov. 21)

 

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