Roger Archambault (far right) is with INS Québec’s CEO Gaëtan Robitaille, and athletes Lex Albrecht (cycling) and Charlie Bilodeau (figure skating) during a fundraising for the Institut’s Excellence Fund in fall 2019.
TIME TO TAKE STOCK FOR ROGER ARCHAMBAULT
As he prepares to re-join the University of Ottawa’s Varsity Athletics, Roger Archambault, Vice-President, Performance Services, looks back on his time at INS Québec. A fantastic adventure that has spanned 19 months and which ends on January 8.
When he started in June 2019, Roger was already familiar with the organization, as his previous role as High Performance Director at Water Polo Canada (2014–2016) already had him working with INS Québec in order to set up services for the national teams based at the Institute’s complex. He was therefore able to experience the rapid development of the organization: “What struck me the most when I arrived was how much the Institute had grown.”
A Role to Play in Restructuring
It’s this rapid development that has been one of the challenges for the organization’s mission. “We have gone through a major restructuring of work. This is, in my opinion, what has shaped my time the most at INS Québec. We’ve become more efficient in providing services to resident sports and we are able to more effectively deliver on the mission of developing excellence, as conferred on us by the Ministère de l’Éducation.” This new structure ensures more effective delivery of services to high-level athletes, provincial federations, regional multi-sport training centres and single-sport training centres. “This network is outstanding and will bear fruit in the long term. The countries that dominate the international scene all have plans to achieve excellence.”
The Importance of a Scientific Approach and Research
Roger also picked up a few things during his time at INS Québec. “I acquired a better understanding of the importance of a scientific approach and research in sports science. I was able to see to what extent the many research projects and relationships with universities were benefiting athletes from Quebec and the direct impact this was having on their performance. If you want to move things forwards in high-level sport, a scientific approach is key.”
More Nutrition and Mental Health Services
Among the projects to which he has contributed, Roger mentioned the mental performance laboratory, which is expected to be up and running soon. “The lab will allow us to be more proactive with regard to mental performance and to offer more tailored services to athletes and sports teams. We don’t distinguish between mental performance and mental health since it is a continuum in our approach. If we equip athletes well in mental performance, and this early in their journey to excellence, they will be better equipped for the long road ahead, which will help us in the prevention of mental health problems.”
Another project that is part of INS Québec’s commitment to being at the state of the art is a DEXA (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) scanner, a device that captures accurate information on the body’s composition, including bone density. “The DEXA scanner improves our delivery of nutritional services and allows us to more effectively measure the effects of treatments provided by specialists, such as in nutrition, strength and conditioning, and physiotherapy.”
Another project that is dear to Roger’s heart was setting up provincial-level discussion groups led by specialists from INS Québec. “These opportunities to exchange and share knowledge in different areas of sports science will help provide more effective support to athletes and coaches through the various stages of their journey to achieving excellence.”
The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has obviously been a major challenge. “It was unchartered territory for everyone and uncertainty has been constant,” said Roger. However, in these challenging times, INS Québec has succeeded in what it coins as a home run by deploying a well-trained multidisciplinary crisis team, providing effective communications and initiating unprecedented cooperation with sports partners. “Discussions with the other Canadian Sport institutes have flourished and have resulted in a concerted and collaborate approach that has helped in the development of projects at the national level, especially in regard to mental health.”
A Unique Platform for Excellence at INS Québec
Throughout his professional career, spanning more than 30 years in high-level sport, Roger noted that there is one thing that is shared between all sports organizations: to succeed and endure, you have to be passionate. Anyone who is committed to high-level sport knows that they’ll come across other amazing groups of enthusiastic and passionate people along the way.
However, he thinks there are a few features that are unique to INS Québec. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with people on a daily basis who are the best in their fields, like scientists with PhDs and accomplished individuals from a diverse range of backgrounds. Of course, this type of expertise isn’t found in every sector.”
There are also the very unique surroundings of the INS Québec complex that he’ll miss. “When you walk through this magnificent facility, you see some of the world’s best athletes, coaches and high performance directors with incredible expertise. There are very few places in North America that offer such a concentration of athletic excellence.”
Roger leaves INS Québec to re-join the University of Ottawa’s Varsity Athletics, where he will return to his role as Assistant Director, High Performance. In this position (which he held between 2015 and 2019), he will oversee the various programs for the Gee-Gees, which include varsity teams, varsity clubs and competitive clubs.