Mentor coach series: Part 3 – From the mentor’s perspective
Photo credit: USA Football
In an effort to develop the next wave of coaches, Football Canada sent Mathieu Lapierre (Trois-Rivières, QC) and Gordon Beattie (Halifax, NS) to the 2016 International Bowl series to apprentice with the U18 and U19 national teams. The national team mentorship program provides practical, hands-on international experience to eager coaches who shadow national team mentors. The program continues after Shirley Benson and Cheryl O’Leary served as mentoring coaches on Canada’s Women’s National Team at the 2013 IFAF Women’s World Championship in Finland.
|In the first two parts of the mentor coach series, we looked back at the International Bowl experiences of the apprentice coaches.|
|Mentor coach series – Part 1: Learning curve accelerated for BeattieMentor coach series – Part 2: Lapierre makes most of opportunity|
As a former position coach on Canada’s Junior National Team and two-time head coach of the U18 national team, Brad Collinson is a strong believer in the merit of developing coaches through the national team mentorship program.
“It’s a great program and I think Mathieu’s going to come out of this as a better football coach,” said Collinson, who’s also a position coach with the Laval Rouge et Or. “He’s going to bring that back home to his program in Trois-Rivières.”
“If you get people like Mathieu applying, that want to be here and understand what this is all about, it’s a great opportunity.”
The opportunity to develop future leaders within the football community is also not lost on Junior National Team offensive coordinator, Joe D’Amore – a young coach in his own right with a passion for facilitating coach development through the National Coaching Certification Program.
“I think it’s important for us, as university coaches, we do this for a living, we come here and we try to get the best coaches here to develop our national program,” D’Amore, who also serves as head coach at the University of Windsor, said. “But it’s also really important that we develop the coaches at a young age or guys that have been coaching at the minor, junior or even high school for so long that they need to get an opportunity to develop and have a chance to get to this (university, junior or national team) level at some point.”
“I think by mentoring, it allows these guys to build their résumé a little bit and learn new techniques and new schemes and things like that,” D’Amore continued. “I think that by having some of the guys that have been doing this a long time mentor some of the newer coaches, they get to feel how they handle their business, and then they can apply that to when they move forward, and get their certification (through Football Canada’s National Coaching Certification Program).”
The concept is not a new one as at all levels of football, coordinators and head coaches help in their fellow staff’s education, passing on their knowledge and experiences to their peers. Many top NCAA football programs have embraced the concept even further through formalized graduate assistant programs which place developing coaches on college staffs to learn the ropes as they gradually take on more responsibility.
The concept is also picking up momentum at universities north of the US border.
“I think that there are universities that are doing that in Canada,” Collinson said, when asked of the possibility of implementing graduate assistant programs at the CIS level. “We at Laval have a GA (graduate assistant) and other programs do too. It’s just a matter of finding those graduate assistants that want to be there and want to help out to do the little things. Sometimes it’s the dirty work, we call it, but you know what, it’s important work and that’s what we need.”
As head coach of the University of Windsor’s football team, Joe D’Amore is also looking at giving local coaches practical experience.
“We’re looking right now at adding a couple of GA’s on our (Windsor Lancers) staff – we’re looking for young go getters that want to learn,” said D’Amore. “They’re not there to run a position on their own, they are going to support another positional coach. But I think it’s important that they get their feet wet.”
For D’Amore, who took advantage of an opportunity to inherit the reigns of his alma mater and hometown team, the reason to develop and give opportunities for local coaches is simple.
“There’s a lot of good young coaches out there that have a desire to coach at university or another high level like the national programs, but never really get the opportunity. I think that it’s important that as coaches, we try to bring those coaches, and let them develop as mentors, and then they can eventually take over and do those things.”
The system has been very successful in developing some of the brightest and most successful American (NCAA, NFL) football coaches.
“You see that through the NCAA and ten years later are head coaching somewhere. Josh McDaniels from the New England Patriots started as a GA. That’s how it works.”
Only time will tell how the International Bowl experience with national team mentorship program helps shape the careers of Mathieu Lapierre and Gord Beattie.
For now, Football Canada is looking at how they can pair additional mentoring opportunities into future national teams and events like the Canada Cup and IFAF U19 World Championship. In the future, there’s also potential to implement similar programs at provincial, regional and local levels with ambitious coaches eager to get hands-on experience.
This post is also available in: French