When Henri Mallet was named head coach of the Canada Cup Atlantic men’s volleyball team this past summer, he was both honoured and excited.
“It was nice to be recognized at the Atlantic level and to be named coach,” said Mallet, who is the current coach of the St. Thomas University men’s volleyball team.
When he initially found out he would be working with some of the best volleyball talent in the region, Mallet was eager to begin training.
“You get to work with the top level players in the Atlantic [provinces] and help them grow as players,” he said.
“These types of programs take a lot of time and effort, so guys that are involved with these programs are keen, so it makes coaching fun.”
This past summer was the first time the Atlantic provinces sent a team to compete at the Canada Cup in Richmond, B.C. from July 19 to 22, which meant the tournament was a new experience for both the players and Mallet.
“It was something new, so no one really knew what to expect,” he said.
Even though he was only coaching the team for two weeks, Mallet knew what he had to do for the team to compete well.
“[I needed to] create that team atmosphere. We didn’t want to have guys from New Brunswick, guys from Nova Scotia, we wanted to have Team Atlantic,” said Mallet.
“That was the number one thing we really focused on as the coaching staff. To make sure that we were a team and the guys trusted each other on the court.”
Taking from his years of coaching volleyball, which included being the assistant coach of the University of New Brunswick men’s team and the University of Ottawa women’s team, Mallet knew how to approach the week to create a winning atmosphere.
“I think it was just not to make it too big. It’s still just a volleyball game. [It] doesn’t matter what the stage is. It could be a practice, a national championship or the finals. At the end of the day, it’s a volleyball game. Don’t overthink it.”
Although the team finished in fifth place, Mallet was pleased with the team’s performance.
“We thought we had a team to finish [in the] top three. That being said, we played well and we executed,” said Mallet.
“There were eight good teams there. That made it [really] fun for everyone to compete against those top caliber teams.”
Ryan Dickson, a fourth-year on the STU men’s volleyball team, was happy his coach got the chance to lead the Atlantic team.
“Henri [Mallet] puts countless hours into coaching all year round, so this recognition was definitely well-deserved,” said Dickson.
“I was definitely happy that he could further his coaching career by adding this to his already amazing coaching resume.”