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Monique Organ is Female Coach of the Year

Monique Organ admits she was surprised and humbled to be named Female Coach of the Year by Hockey Canada and BFL Canada. – Submitted photo

By Jaymie White

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

PORT AUX BASQUES – Hockey Canada and BFL Canada team up each year to recognize the contributions of a female coach with the BFL Female Coach of the Year Award, and this year the community recipient is Port Aux Basques’ own Monique Organ.

Organ, who has been coaching the past six years, began her career with minor hockey as a player.

“I was late starting in joining hockey. I didn’t actually start playing organized hockey until I was in grade 10, I think it was, and played for my remaining years that I was eligible, through high school, went on to university and played rec through university. Then I started my own family.”

Organ said that once her daughter came of age to join it made sense for her to get back involved.

“I started out volunteering as a coach when she started out her hockey career. She would’ve been four years old to be eligible to play her first year. That’s really where it came from. I didn’t really set out to have any kind of career or major dealings with coaching. I just grew into the role.”

Organ said she was living in Ontario with her husband for seven years prior to starting a family, and she didn’t do any coaching at that time. Her involvement in the sport was as a player.

“When I moved back home, I was out of touch with the minor hockey program, so to speak, because I was an adult player and didn’t play in the minor hockey program any longer while I was in Ontario. So I didn’t really know the ins and outs and I was feeling my way through. It’s a small community here, so when the winter comes, it seems second nature that anybody that wants to do something or be physically active, it’s the winter sport everybody is involved in.”

Organ started out as an assistant coach, helping out in any way she could, then she went on to get her coaching certifications through Hockey NL.

“It gives you a better ability to run practices or run drills, to understand more about how things are set up and what the expectation is from a coaching level. Eventually, over the years, I grew more comfortable in the role and was able to come into the mix of the coaches.”

Organ said coaching is a collaborative effort where you learn to work together and draw on each other’s knowledge and background.

“It goes a long way when the people you work with make it easy. It doesn’t feel like you’re giving up this time. It doesn’t feel monotonous like, ‘oh my God, I have to go to hockey again today.’ It’s enjoyable and it makes it worth it.”

Organ began coaching the minor hockey program before it introduced a female program for the U7 and U9 aged girls. Those age groups previously were part of the co-ed program until U12/U13 age.

“When I initially started out with my daughter, she was just in the minor hockey program because that was what was available to her. So then when we started the pilot program over the past couple of seasons, which they are trying to adopt a female presence from the start of hockey on up through your playing career until you graduate. I became a part of that coaching venture group also.”

Winning the award was definitely a shock, as Organ had no idea she had even been nominated.

“It was a pleasant surprise, really nice to hear and see. It’s great for our association to be recognized. We do have a great association. We’re small but mighty. Even through COVID we’ve been able to retain great numbers. We’ve actually been lucky enough that even though the game play was removed because of COVID, our season practices still remained. We had very little shutdown because of outbreaks. It took a lot of hard work and determination for everyone involved: coaches, families and volunteers,” said Organ. “This last year in particular, the start was a little bit unknown, and December around Christmas we did get shut down because of the outbreak, but after that you could see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Organ said it was humbling to win and she appreciated the acknowledgment of the efforts she has put in to the program.

“I was successful enough to be nominated and accepted, but there are so many of us that put our program where it is. Any one of us could be in my shoes and it would’ve been equally as deserving as I am. It takes more than one. It’s not one person that creates a successful program. It’s the totality of everybody.”

Organ said the most fulfilling part of being a coach is watching the kids meet their milestones, develop as individuals, and take pride in themselves.

“I really like seeing kids succeed. I love hockey. I love sport in general. I feel like organized sport offers so much to children. It’s not all about going to the NHL or going to be a part of the Canadian hockey team. You get so much more from organized sport that a lot of kids recognize at this age. It takes them through life, especially being able to move up through with the same group of kids for the most part, from one division to the next. You really see them transform into these awesome individuals, not hockey players, but just individuals in society.”

Organ plans on remaining with minor hockey for the foreseeable future, both as a coach and an executive.

“I’ve been on the executive for the last three years. I’ve just finished my third year. The first two years I was in a public relations role and this past year I was second vice-president, so that meant a lot of different tasks and responsibilities aside from coaching, but my intent is to stay on. My daughter is more of a social player, so she hasn’t found that love for the game yet. She is always of two minds every year, whether she’s going to go back or not, but I feel like I’ll stay there whether she decides to stay there or not. I’ve established a good relationship with the kids. They’re easy to coach, easy to work with. We’ve got a good group of kids,” said Organ.“ At the end of the day, after a long day of work, going and strapping on the skates and getting on the ice with them, sometimes it’s the break and the getaway you need.”

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