It takes a special kind of coach who can not only win games but create upstanding individuals in his or her players.
Volleyball coach Ron Labrie has been in the game long enough to know that it’s not just winning that matters, but also how players treat each other on and off the court. That hard work for Ponoka Secondary Campus athletes was recognized this year at the Alberta School’s Athletic Association’s AGM recently where Labrie was presented with the 2016 Most Sportsmanlike Coach Award.
This award comes not long after his Broncs senior girls volleyball team was awarded the most sportsmanlike team at provincials.
For Labrie being nominated and winning the coach’s award was a surprise and honour. “Honestly I was very humbled by it and it’s really awesome to be recognized by the people in your school who are in charge of athletics.”
Labrie was nominated, something he was unaware of at the time, by athletic directors Cody Baird and Paula Chapman.
But what is it that makes a coach sportsmanlike? For Labrie, it’s a way of life, applying an ethical approach to the game, something he feels all coaches should operate on. He credits some great mentors over the years who helped him see that being a leader of youths requires a certain personal code of conduct.
Over the years, Labrie has led his volleyball teams to several provincial competitions, earning the championship in 2003. During those provincials challenges, his teams have received several sportsmanlike awards. Labrie was also recognized as being a sportsmanlike coach at the 2003 provincials.
The biggest lesson to his players? No team member is bigger than the game. That philosophy is modeled on and off the courts, in training and in players’ personal lives.
“There’s just certain things that none of us are above, and that’s the spirit of the game,” said Labrie.
“Integrity and ethics. I think that’s a big part of how I am built.”
Seeing the results of these actions doesn’t happen overnight and there needs to be a balance of sportsmanship and competitiveness. However, it is the kids being coached that need to be considered as they are half of the equation.