Alex Tessier Lends a Hand as Skills Coach With Former Team

Tessier Reflects on Her First Coaching Experience With Stingers Women’s Rugby

  • Alex Tessier returned to her former team this season, this time as a coach. Photo Elisa Barbier

After her five years of eligibility as a varsity athlete were up, Alex Tessier managed to find a way to stay involved with her former team while finishing up the last year of her finance degree—coaching.

Tessier, could be seen on the sidelines and on the practice pitch, offering guidance in the form of skills coaching and mentorship to a host of fresh faces on the team.

This year’s women’s rugby team was made up of primarily first and second-year players who benefited from having Tessier, who brought both talent and leadership to the table, as they learned the ins and outs of being a varsity athlete.

“[Working with Tessier] was really great,” said veteran scrum-half, Lia Hoyte, who received All-Canadian honours his season. “We all really respect her and she’s such a talented athlete so having her be able to teach us and share her knowledge with us was really great.”

Tessier says that her first coaching experience was also a learning experience for her. Photo Elisa Barbier

Tessier, who never had the opportunity to lead in a coaching role before, said her time as a skills coach with her former team was not only a coaching experience, but a learning experience as well.

“It turned out well,” she said. “I think with the new coaching staff including Jocelyn, it was really smooth for me at least and I think with the structure of the coaching group that we had, we prepared well for practices and games and we debriefed after and everything was very professional which made my first coaching experience easy.”

This season, Tessier said she enjoyed the opportunity to work closely alongside newly-minted head coach Jocelyn Barrieau. The two are no stranger to each other, as Barrieau coached Tessier for a number of years at both the provincial and national level.

“She was one of the best coaches I’ve worked with as a player,” Tessier said. “I look up to her as a coach as well. I definitely learned a lot this season working with her.”

Tessier maintained her coaching position with the Stingers throughout the season, all while training with Rugby Canada’s 15’s senior women’s team as it prepared for a set of test matches at the 2018 Autumn Tour in the United Kingdom at the end of November.

“You don’t get to coach extremely talented players very often in your career. The special ones really tend to stand out and to get to spend an extra year with [Tessier] and have her challenge me and to challenge her on a higher level has been a really interesting process.” —Jocelyn Barrieau

While Tessier admits it was a busy schedule to keep up, she said that Barrieau made things a bit easier on her. She said that because she was familiar with the training schedule of the national program, and recognized that being an athlete comes first for Tessier, Barrieau stressed that it was important for her to do what she needed to do as an athlete, even if that meant missing out on a practice or a game.

“I’m actually really lucky that she really understands this and that she supports that,” said Tessuer.

In her first year as head coach of the program, Barrieau was happy to share coaching duties with Tessier. Barrieau recalls her experience having Tessier alongside her throughout this past season as being special.

“I know that [she’s] at the end of a chapter in her life and to coach her is something special, you don’t get to coach extremely talented players very often in your career,” said Barrieau. “The special ones really tend to stand out and to get to spend an extra year with [Tessier] and have her challenge me and to challenge her on a higher level has been a really interesting process.”

She went on to explain that any opportunity to work with a talented athlete, like Tessier, was like a treat to her as she carries herself with a level of professionalism that not all athletes have mastered.

Barrieau said that some of the characteristics that helped Tessier to thrive as a coach this season were her attention to detail and wealth of technical knowledge, alongside her caring and empathetic personality.

For now, whether or not Tessier returns for another season with the team remains up in the air. Tessier keeps a packed schedule and is unsure of whether or not her career will take her outside of Montreal in the coming year, and for that reason can’t commit to a return next year.

Barrieau said she was happy to have her on, if even just for this one year.

“I know that this might have been a one-time thing, and it was wonderful for all it was worth if it is, and I’ll always support her wherever she goes. She could have an excellent future as a coach if she chooses to.”

By commenting on this page you agree to the terms of our Comments Policy.