Mentor coach series – Part 2: Lapierre makes most of opportunity
Upon learning that he’d been selected as the under-18 national teams’ mentoring coach at the 2016 International Bowl, Mathieu Lapierre made the decision to make the most of the opportunity.
“I wanted to make this experience worth it, not just not by observing and being there, but by being involved in all the decisions, meetings, and have the chance to learn by doing, not just observing,” Mathieu said.
After all, the coach from Séminaire St-Joseph, a private high school in Trois-Rivières, was going to spend two weeks in one of the world’s football mecca’s alongside a coaching stuff comprised of university calibre coaches working to prepare Canada’s under-18 national team for a pair of games against the U.S. national team at AT&T Stadium, home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys.
His first order of business, after hearing he’d been chosen for the program, was to get in touch with the national team’s head coach, Brad Collinson, to let him know how serious he was about maximizing the experience.
One the first day, Lapierre impressed under-19 national team defensive coordinator Kevin MacNeill during interlock practice by drawing up offensive formations that they’d be facing.
“He asked me to chart the offensive calls and at that point I knew I’d be involved in a lot of stuff,” Lapierre said. “I took the time to make the decision to be involved and do it, not just think about it. I wanted to let my presence be felt and all the coaches on the U18 team saw me working at the first practice and from there things simply evolved during the full length of my time in Texas.”
Lapierre, a defensive coordinator at the juvénile (varsity high school level) in Quebec, helped coach Canada’s defensive backs in Texas alongside the team’s defensive coordinator.
“Right away coach Paulo (Paul-Eddy St- Vilien – Canada’s DC) let me teach and pass along some of the techniques that I knew. They (the coaching staff) recognized that I was able to coach at that level. Afterwards, I had the time to really be involved in all the meetings and I had the place to say some of the stuff that I saw during practice without having the sense that I was saying something that is not right.”
The experience was eye-opening for Lapierre. One of the biggest things he’ll bring back to his program is the sense of family created in Texas.
“The first thing when I came in, I was not feeling alone or placed aside, I was part of the family; part of Team Canada,” Mathieu said. “That’s the first thing that I would bring back to my school.”
His experience also had an impact of how he plans to structure practice and teach skill progression.
“Even though we are doing a lot of the same drills at my school, I was able to learn another step that I can bring back to my school,” he said. “Instead of going on a technical point directly, I’d rather let the kids know the technical point and a number of responses that they can have with that technical point.”
“So now, you’re able to coach not only one point at a time, but several ones and let the kids decide which ones they are going to use during games, if it’s used properly for the type of tactic (concept) that we’re using.”
Lapierre impressed national team head coach and current Laval Rouge et Or assistant coach, Brad Collinson.
“Mathieu did an excellent job for us. He helped with all different facets of our game plan and our practices,” said head coach, Brad Collinson of his mentoring coach. “He was here to learn and I think that he did more than that – he contributed to our game plans and our teaching segments during practices. On game day, he was up in the booth relaying information down.”
Following an injury he sustained during the Carabins’ inaugural university football season, Mathieu began to focus on his studies and used the experience to turn his passion towards coaching. One day, he hopes that his coaching career will propel him back to the university ranks.
“I hope that my International Bowl experience is going to give me the chance, in the future, to become a position coach at the university level. That’s one of my personal goals, to be a university coach, but I want to take the time to do it the proper way. That’s why I sent my application for this experience – it gave me a lot of knowledge, a lot of experience and also I had a lot of fun.”
“It was a great program,” Collinson said of the mentorship program. “I think Mathieu’s going to come out of this as a better football coach. He’s going to bring that back home to his program in Trois-Rivières.”
One day Collinson may find himself coaching alongside or against Mathieu Lapierre at the university level, with the knowledge that his mentoring experience in Texas played a role in helping him achieve his dreams.
This post is also available in: French