V’ball coach focuses on creating sense of belonging
- EFN Staff | November 14, 2018
Although Coaches Week has passed, it’s never to late to acknowledge the work and dedication of the coaches who made an impact in many athletes’ lives.
Tara Arcand from Muskeg Lake Cree Nation volunteers her time in Saskatoon to coach volleyball players at all levels.
She grew up playing the sport in high school but due to lack of supports, the passion wasn’t there. Years later, she reignited the interest and got back into playing volleyball by joining adult leagues. It was then that she was asked to start coaching the sport to youth – the passion for the sport took off from there.
“I realize how limited how the kids were…they didn’t have a lot of supports especially with sports development,” she said. “When I jumped on, I literally had every single team to try develop.”
Arcand started off coaching at the winter and summer games and was later asked to coach in NAIG. Ever since, she absolutely loved being a part of that process for that event.
“It had such an impact on my life since I started coaching, I changed my lifestyle,” said Arcand who is a youth worker at White Buffalo Youth Lodge. “Everything about coaching changed my life. It has led me to my passion in life.”
Coaching volleyball is more than volunteer work for Arcand; it’s about being that person to influence the others.
“For me, it’s creating that setting where it’s a place where we can learn and create a sense of belonging,” she said. “Winning wasn’t my priority. It was just making sure that the kids had that support to create that sense of belonging and a sense of purpose. It’s really important that the kids have the space to build that self confidence…over the years, I noticed I’m not the one empowering them but they’re empowering each other.”
This summer, Arcand was asked to participate in DiGGit volleyball summer camp in Saskatoon. There were more than 300 participants mostly non-Indigenous. She is hoping, with help from other coaches, to build something similar for Indigenous youth.
“There were some Indigenous kids in that camp but not enough,” she said. “I know that’s an asset. Our Indigenous kids are assets to these mainstream teams and I’m hoping to bridge that gap with other kids. We’re not building them up enough to be comfortable in that setting. I want to work with other coaches and maybe build another camp like DiGGit for our Indigenous kids.”
“Coaching is one of the best things I’ve done in the last 10 years,” she added.
Arcand looks up to Marc Longjohn and Natalie Lukiw who have helped Team Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC) during big competitions like NAIG and the Tony Cote Games. Longjohn introduced Arcand to Lukiw to each other years ago, and since, she has learned to create coaching opportunities.
“They [were] both willing to share so much knowledge with me,” she said. “The work they do with youth is very inspiring.”
Arcand is also a full-time student at SIIT in her second year studying mental health and wellness.