International Women’s Rights Day | These women who coach men’s teams

How many female coaches of men’s hockey teams are there in Quebec?

Generally speaking, very few. “During our training at the start of the season, I was the only woman,” says Véronique Dubé. “In a dozen years, I have only met one other coach,” adds Karine Sénécal. And out of my sons’ 1000 matches, I only came across two.

The real number?

Secure your pajamas with suspenders.

There are… 416.

It seemed huge to me. “Are you sure? », I asked Hockey Quebec. Verification done, the account is good, and it excludes the managers. The tectonic plates are indeed moving. Slowly but surely.

Who are these women who train boys? How did they get into men’s hockey? How’s it going ?


* * *

The first time Kimberly Thériault assisted her uncle behind a bench, she was only 12 years old. “I was so passionate that I accompanied him all the time. I followed him until I left the Magdalen Islands to play at Stanstead College, then at Lionel-Groulx CEGEP.

“When I came back here, after my studies, I got involved. I did two years in the M11 AA. This year, I am head coach in the novice and assistant in the M13 AA.

— Have you ever experienced prejudice?

– No. It must be said that in the Islands, we form a small community. We are two coaches. People here have known us for a long time. They followed our journey. In addition, I am a physical education teacher and I have a hockey school. It helped me a lot. »

Lysanne Bellefeuille-Désilets, U13 coach at La Découverte high school in Saint-Léonard-d’Aston, had a similar experience. “In the region, we all know each other. I had already coached the girls for a few years. I didn’t need to prove who I was. Besides, my aunt had already coached in junior AA, and my cousin played for the Shawinigan Cataractes and the UQTR Patriotes. So it wasn’t strange that I was on the ice. It was like any dad, except I was a mom. It always went well. I never felt judged. »


The Broncos from La Découverte high school, in Saint-Léonard-d’Aston, from head coach Lysanne Bellefeuille-Désilets

Other women, however, received a colder reception. This is the case of Marilyn Chadronnet, who has been training boys for seven years.

“When I was younger, I always played hockey with boys. Then, I studied early childhood technology and teaching. Children are part of my life. I started getting involved with a friend’s boys’ teams. I was 25 years old. As a woman, you have to make your place. You have pressure. You feel it. »

At first, the other coaches didn’t greet me. They didn’t take me seriously. If I played against another team, the referees would always meet with my assistants first. When my assistants told them I was the head coach, the referees always seemed to be surprised.

Marilyn Chadronnet

It was easier at Hockey Sud-Ouest, she explains, because she had already played within the organization. “People knew my skills and knew I was a teacher. When I went to Châteauguay, I had to reestablish my credibility. At first, I didn’t say anything. No one spoke to me either. I took the young people who skated the least well and I taught them tricks. One day, after two months, I was teaching a child to skate backwards. A man came up to me and said, “Hey, have you ever played hockey? Have you already coached ?” It took a while to find my place. But you see, this year, they offered me the position of director of the MAHG program,” the introductory course for the youngest.

“Today, parents want me to coach their youngster next season. I think I’m good at creating a sense of belonging within the team. The young people are there at all the matches and all the practices. I love seeing them encourage each other. Being happy when another child matters. »

After a career as a player, then as an assistant coach in the NCAA, Karine Sénécal founded the women’s program at Cégep André-Laurendeau and managed men’s teams at Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf – with success.*. Some of its teams have also won championships. Despite her remarkable curriculum, she too must have encountered incredulous looks.


Karine Sénécal founded the women’s program at Cégep André-Laurendeau and led men’s teams at Jean-de-Brébeuf college.

“With referees and bus drivers, sometimes it’s more difficult. There are people who accept it less well. Every time I say to myself: I hope it’s not because I’m a woman, but I feel it. When I coached with my father, who was my assistant, referees naturally went to him. He knew it bothered me. He replied to them: “Mr. referee, she is the coach chief.” At the start of my career it was even worse. They thought I was the physio. People asked me: can I speak to a coach? Well the coachit’s me !

“Today, the coaches of the other teams know me. They respect me. My colleagues in Brébeuf too. It’s number one. »

If Karine Sénécal returned to Quebec after a decade in the United States, it is in particular because the path to becoming a head coach in the NCAA looked rocky. “Very few women held head coaching positions in the premier league. To get there, I calculated that it would take me more than 20 years. I didn’t like it. At the same time, Brébeuf, where I had studied, was looking for a coach-teacher. It motivated me. I wanted to give back to my old college.

When I coached In bantam, I liked seeing my players succeed in exercises that I considered complicated, like trick plays during faceoffs. It was satisfying. I was more demanding with them than with the pee-wee, which I have managed for three years. I am perhaps a little more permissive with the youngest. Sometimes I find that I have mom reactions.

Karine Sénécal

She’s not the only one who feels this way. Kimberly Thériault also claims to have “a more maternal side”. “Young people confide in us more than in men. In away tournaments, we have a big role to play. We’re like everyone’s mom at the same time. »

Véronique Dubé manages her own boy in an M13 team in the Laurentians. This is her first season as head coach. “When my guy started in the MAHG, I went to help. I had already taught figure skating. A manager told me: “You are good with young people. You should take your coaching training.” I did it. I remained an assistant for several years. Then last fall, the association asked me to be head coach. My heart stopped. I wasn’t ready for this. I had the taste, but I was also really afraid. »


Véronique Dubé, head coach of the Montagnards M13B

Six months later, how is it going?

” Very good ! Well, I’m not always the first to see the markers and the others coaches shake hands, but the reception is good. (My presence) arouses curiosity. At the end of a tournament in Mont-Laurier, a volunteer came to tell me that she was proud to see a woman behind the bench. It’s gratifying. »

Véronique Dubé is particularly satisfied with the group spirit that reigns within her team. I’m not surprised. Do you remember the Palettes Roses, this team of amateur hockey players who toured France and Switzerland last year? She was the dynamo of the team.

Reread the column “We are too proud, the Roses”

“Recently, we faced the Mont-Laurier Prédateurs. I invented a legend about the Predators, who crushed little titmice. The Montagnards – our team – had to save the animals. The guys got so involved! »


Véronique Dubé

Like Véronique Dubé, Murielle Lemaire began to get involved when her children signed up for hockey. “As long as I’m at the arena at 6 a.m., I figured I might as well be on the ice. » His hockey experience? Nothing. She had never played.

“Except I trained as a physiotherapist. Learning to walk and skating are similar. THE coaches asked me to lead a skating workshop. I was thinking of helping out for a few weeks and then returning to the stands. But no. They insisted that I stay. I pointed out to them that I didn’t even know how to use a stick. “Nevermind. You will learn it at the same time as the young people!” »


The Trois-Rivières-Ouest Albatross of assistant coach Murielle Lemaire

Five years later, she is still behind a bench. That of the Albatross de Trois-Rivières-Ouest M11, where she takes care of the defenders. “As I don’t have a hockey background, I bring a different vision. I see certain qualities in the players that others might not see. I break away more easily from the already established patterns of sport. »

“There are challenges in a team! », concludes Lysanne Bellefeuille-Désilets. “Beyond teaching hockey, pedagogy is really important. We must have contact with all young people. Maybe I have an easier time connecting with them because I’m an elementary school teacher. There are plenty of things in teaching that lend themselves well to a hockey team. » Moreover, five of the six women cited in this column are teachers.

“Afterwards, when you succeed in creating a group spirit, when chemistry is established and you see the young people being proud of themselves, it’s super rewarding. It’s the best part of what we do. »

* Total transparency: Karine Sénécal trained one of my children, who was then her assistant coach.


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