Debbie Beaudoin has an extensive background playing professional and semi-professional hockey and along with a wealth of coaching experience, she brings a unique skill set to her role as Owner/Director of Program Development and Associate Director for Player Development at Beaudies House of Hockey, Ringette, and Skating. In 2023, she, along with fellow board members, initiated the establishment of Warriors Ice Sports Training Society, a nonprofit organization.
Selected as our October 2023 Featured Group, our interview with Debbie underscored the positive impacts of a fun learning environment, coinciding with the global observance of World Mental Health Day on October 10.
Your training philosophy is centred around providing “FUNdamental development”. How do you keep a balance between fun and hard work in your programs?
In our programs we encourage our coaches to build positive relationships with both the students and parents to create a bond and rapport where learning is fun. When that bond is created coaches can be creative in their teaching/learning. Coaches will then encourage working hard and to try new skills. When the environment is positive, athletes will want to work hard.
What advice would you give to young athletes, parents, or coaches who are looking to prioritize both skill development and mental health in their approach to hockey and sports in general? Especially in association with keeping development fun.
As an athlete and a coach, and in my experience, participating in sports can reduce the levels of stress in our bodies. I have found physical activity and playing sports can be an outlet and uplifting when the body is feeling low. At the same time, listen to your athlete if they are communicating they need a break in their daily work out schedule. At times, the body needs a day off to recoup. Advice to coaches, in practices and training schedules, make sure to provide a variety of learning styles, creative ways to learning and playing games that incorporate the athletes skill development. In my opinion, being able to provide learning in a fun atmosphere can help promote positive mental health and balance with an athlete.
In your experience, how does a positive and fun learning environment impact the overall development and performance of young athletes?
In my experience, creating a positive and fun learning environment helps create positive attitudes with the athletes. It helps the athletes stay motivated and can help create a balance in learning and mental health. I find coaches who can connect with athletes in a positive way will naturally bring a fun learning environment. When the athletes are having fun, they tend to not realize that they are learning.
You prioritize the importance of discipline, team play, and individual player accountability. How do these values factor into your coaching and development methods?
When coaching a group of athletes, you are the coach, the parent. A coach's house is the rink and just like parents in their home, both have to learn to balance structure within learning and coaching. Yes, we need to provide opportunity to have fun, yes we need to create a positive learning environment but without discipline, team play, or individual accountability you can’t help develop athletes as a whole. In my opinion, whether you’re a child, or an adult, we all strive to have structure and rules. It helps us develop and grow both personally and athletically.
Beaudies House of Hockey and Warriors Ice Sports Training Society offer programs for a wide range of skill levels, from beginners to elite players. How do you tailor your approach to ensure that each participant receives the appropriate level of instruction and support?
Yes, Beaudies House of Hockey and Warriors Ice Sports Training Society aims to teach all ages, and levels of skill development. We can provide this through multiple coaches being present on the ice. For example, in our Academy of Skating: Warriors Learn to Skate we have Parent and Child, Tots, Youth, Teen and Adult Learn to Skate. We also break the classes down into Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. We bring in coaches that can teach the various levels, all while having everyone on the ice. Our classes are broken down to approximately 1 Coach to 8 Students. This fall we are offering Power Skating, and we have both Youth and Adults on the ice in this program. We also have 2 coaches. One coach leads the program and the other interacts and assists with the whole class to make sure all athletes are getting the instruction they were looking for. What is unique, this season, is that parents are asking if their kids can join, and vice versa kids are asking if their parents can join.
Looking ahead, what are your future goals and visions for Beaudies House of Hockey and Warriors Ice Sports Training Society in terms of continuing to promote fun, skill development, and mental health awareness in the world of hockey and ringette?
Beaudies House of Hockey and Warriors Ice Sports Training Society would like to continue to provide community programming in the heart of the Fraser Valley. We would like to continue to build positive relationships in the community and be able to provide affordable programming to everyone. We would like to be able to provide more affordable program options to more people within the community. This past season we added a Diverse Abilities Program to help meet the needs of all children looking to learn how to ice skate. We will continue to research and implement new ideas to our athletes. Regarding promoting fun, skill development and mental health. It is my belief all three works together. If a coach can create a fun learning environment, that provides skill development it can lead to a healthier mental health status. We will continue to promote all three to help our athletes.