NATIONAL COACHES WEEK : BOCCIA COACH MARIO DELISLE GIVES BACK TO SPORT.
As part of National Coaches Week, INS Québec has asked coaches to introduce us to the mentors and coaches who in turn have inspired and influenced them.
MARIO DELISLE, HEAD COACH OF BOCCIA CANADA.
Mario Delisle got into Paralympic sports by chance. After studying physical education, he knew that he wanted to work with atypical clients. “My internships helped me to see that I liked working with an older clientele, those with intellectual disabilities and those with physical disabilities more,” remarks the Boccia professional, who made his debut in 1993.
Boccia was largely unknown at the time. Delisle helped to develop this sport in Quebec by establishing a competition circuit and raising awareness about the sport. “When I started out, I was just focused on recruiting athletes so I could work with them. Then we saw some improvements. After a few years, we had high-level athletes,” says the head coach of Boccia Canada. Once the structure of the sport was in place, he then focused on his role as coach and developed his skills.
While he did choose to pursue his university studies in sports education and eventually became a coach, this is largely due his past as an athlete. “I met with coaches who turned me on to sports and helped me understand what I wanted to do with my life,” he remarks, noting that he played hockey between the ages of 5 and 18.
When he was 14, he crossed paths with a coach who made a lasting impact on his view of this role. “This particular coach listened to us and talked to us. He took the time to speak to us individually and ask us questions. Before that, my coaches had only focused on our performance. With him, I understood that this was something that I could do as well. I learned that this was another aspect of coaching,” he recalls.
A few years later, another hockey coach reminded him of the importance of having fun. “When I left the high-level competitive circuit behind, I had a coach for whom enjoyment was at the centre of everything he did. I don’t think I improved my technical skills much during that season,” he laughs, “but it was really enjoyable and it remains one of my favourite sporting memories. Being together with the whole team; the support, the encouragement and the good humour of the coach—it was a remarkable year.”
Today, what motivates him in his work is supporting athletes and conveying his passion for sports to them. While he is never far from the Boccia court, his role as head coach is more about supporting and mentoring other coaches. “I could not have had this career without my love for sports in general, and my passion for Boccia and para-athletes in particular.”
After being one of the pioneers in the development of Boccia in Quebec, the last few years have been devoted to the quest for performance. “We’ve trained athletes who have given incredible performances. We’re aiming for the podium in Tokyo,” he explains, noting that enjoyment and high performance should go hand in hand. “The desire to succeed is something that all high-level athletes and coaches share.”
Passionate, with a positive attitude and always listening, Mario Delisle believes that there is a direct link between the coaches he had in the past and the coach he has become.
Mario Delisle is a coach who continuously gives back to this Paralympic sport today what the coaches from his past gave to him.