KAMLOOPS, BC—He is humble, but passionate about helping kids reach their potential in sports and passionate about helping out his community.
It is with this in the forefront that Richard Thibault, who is originally from Gore Bay, was recently presented with the Coach of the Year Award by the Kamloops Minor Hockey Association (KMHA). He was coach of the midget recreational division team, and a second travelling (peewee) team this season.
“He is definitely following in his father’s footsteps,” said Cheryl (Gjos) Thibeault of her husband Richard and in reference to his late father Randy. “He’s passionate about his kids, his hockey players and wants to help his community.”
Mr. Thibault was coach of the midget division ‘Team Thibault’ this season among the 10-12 teams in the Kamloops league.
“I’ve been coaching for probably the better part of 10 years,” Mr. Thibault told the Recorder in an interview last week. “I didn’t start coaching until my first child (one of three children he and Cheryl have) was old enough to play hockey. I played hockey all my life and by coaching it is my way of giving back to the community.”
“It is hard to find volunteers and people to give up time to help kids,” said Mr. Thibault. “This is something my parents (Randy and Katharine Thibault) instilled in me—helping out in the community.”
“My dad’s passion was the Western Manitoulin Hockey Association; that’s what he loved. Dad got me hooked on hockey and it is something I’ve loved all my life,” said Mr. Thibault. “It is a way to give back to the community and to kids. It is very rewarding.”
The KMHA is under the umbrella of the Kamloops Blazers junior hockey organization and is made up of teams from the initiation on ice age level through novice, atom recreational peewee, midget and bantam age levels. “There is a (sizable) population in Kamloops and there are enough players to have 10 to 12 local teams just in the midget division alone,” said Ms. Thibeault.
“Our oldest son just turned 18 and Richard has coached him since initiation level all the way up to midget. We also have two sons, both under 12 years of age, who play in the Development Hockey League (peewee division) and Richard coaches that team as well. That team is a travelling team and every weekend we travel with them. He is passionate for hockey and likes to share his knowledge.”
“One of the kids he coached this year he has coached since he was eight years old. Richard can talk to the kid or any of his players about anything—he likes to help them out,” said Ms. Thibeault. “Richard feels it is not just about developing good hockey players but to be good people as well.”
“Our midget team won the league championship for the second year in a row this season,” said Mr. Thibault, who also noted he “plays hockey three times a week.”
Coaching hockey is more than about the game, said Mr. Thibault. He explained, “hockey is the medium for teaching kids things like values, commitment, dedication and helping others. It is a mechanism to teach about life. It is not really about hockey.”
“I get notes from parents thanking me for coaching their kids, it is my way of giving back and I enjoy it all; probably as much as the players.”
Ms. Thibeault noted her husband, “is pretty humble. He told me he had won the coach of the year award but he didn’t share this information with his friends, until it came out on the KMHA website. He’s pretty quiet about the whole thing.”
“His dad will live on in him forever, he has given a lot to our kids, the community and the kids he coaches,” added Ms. Thibeault.
Mr. and Ms. Thibeault were high school sweethearts at Manitoulin Secondary School while growing up and after both finishing school, “we moved here (Kamloops) in 1995. We both finished university and got in the car and since Richard had a job in Kamloops we moved out here. We have met and become friends with a lot of people originally from Sudbury, and by getting involved in baseball and hockey, it is the best way to make friends.”
“If I didn’t coach and help out I wouldn’t know what to do,” added Mr. Thibault.