Meet Gil Langlois and Darren Soulier, minor hockey coaches who have had a deep and profound influence on members of the Canada national women’s team.
All players on the Canada national women’s team rose through the ranks from the local level. Throughout his journey, he has had coaches who have shaped his style of play and nurtured his love for hockey.
Here is a diagram of the significant impact two coaches have on two players.
Brian Jenner and Gil Langlois
Gil Langlois coached Brian Jenner for the early seasons of the player’s minor hockey career. Langlois became interested in training when his children started playing the sport. Although they only briefly rubbed shoulders at St. Catherine’s Royals, Langlois and Jenner were marked by each other.
Hockey Canada (HC): What inspired you to continue your coaching career after your kids finished minor hockey?
Gil Langlois (GL):
Passion for training and working with youth. I love being able to practice and share what I’ve learned. I’ve always had this desire to coach: I’ve led T-ball, soccer, baseball, and hockey teams. It was a calling to me and it was still very lively, even though my kids weren’t playing anymore, so I kept getting involved. I haven’t played much at a younger level, but the opportunity to learn and pass on my learnings to the little ones is very rewarding.
High Court: What are your favorite memories from the days of directing Brian?
There are two that make me smile. One of my kids once put a Beanie baby soft toy in a locker and said it was our lucky charm. These kids were eight years old, so I didn’t see any problem. A game or two later there were half a dozen sparklers. Everyone ended up getting one, and Brian gave it to me. Imagine leading my team with Beanie Babies as I agreed to put them on the bench. And Brian had brought me one to bring luck to me… it was a lot of fun. Here’s another moment that I will never forget. This was during a tournament. I gave my pre-game speech as usual. The team jumped on the ice, and it was a tough game, but we won. Brian came up to me after the game and said, “We won it for you, coach, She was only eight years old, but as a coach I loved seeing that she gave herself body and soul and dedicated victory to me.
HC: Gill, what message do you want to convey to Brian?
I want to tell her how proud I am of her for all her achievements at the rink and elsewhere. I always knew he had the talent and skill to make it happen, and I am happy with the huge success he has achieved. I wish Brian and his family the very best.
HC: Brian, what message do you want to convey to Gill?
Thank you for the positive impression you made on me. Coaches are very important at the local level. He has the opportunity to instil a passion for hockey in his players which will last a lifetime and that is what Gill has done for me. I was so happy jumping on the ice every day, and no matter whether I made a career in it or not, I knew my enthusiasm for hockey would always be there. I learned a lot from it. I thank Gill for being that kind of coach for me.
Jill Sollnier and Darren Soulnier
Darren Solnier was closely associated with the small hockey teams his daughter Jill played in Nova Scotia. He has watched his children grow up playing hockey, and whether as a coach or as a volunteer, Darren has always had a special connection to the sport.
High Court: Darren, how did you become a coach?
Darren Saalnier (DS):
When I was little, my brother and I used to play hockey. I knew I would pass on my passion to my kids, so quickly I put my sons Brennan and Jillian on the skates. I also built an ice rink in my backyard, like many Canadian families. This is how it all started. The kids then played for the Timbits team, and I decided to volunteer. It was actually my son who took the leap first; A year later, Jill joined him. I led them in the Timbits program, and they played together in a boys’ league until Jill played with the other girls. Later, I was an assistant or volunteer, and in the only season in the Women’s Hockey League before Jill left the house, I coached her team.
High Court: What moment have you marked in Jill’s career?
I believe being accepted into the boys team at a very young age went a long way in awakening his passion for hockey. Being able to bond with his brother and other boys really inspired him. At that age, it was very important for her to feel included in the group.
High Court: Darren, what message do you want to convey to your daughter?
I would just ask him to keep making his dream come true. Jill especially thrives on a tight-knit team. She recently told me that whatever team she’s been a part of, the one she’s currently playing for is where the chemistry drives the most.
High Court: Jill, what message do you want to convey to your father?
Thank you for the time you have given me. Thank you for sitting on a container of ice cream passing me slices across the yard. Thank you for getting me on the athletics track and teaching me to work hard and keep the flame alive. Sometimes our passion fades in our journey, because the road is not always easy. It was my father who always brought me back to my goals.
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