Former hockey Hawks step behind the bench

Behind every great sports team is a dedicated coach working tirelessly to ensure athletic success both on and off the ice.

Add two young, enthusiastic and accomplished former players to that bench and you create a serious coaching staff worth noting.

The Wilfrid Laurier University women’s hockey team (recently ranked No. 2 in Canada) welcomed two new assistant coaches to their roster this past year: Lindsay Arbeau and Andrea Bevan.

Both are previous players that tasted gold in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) championships and Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) finals back in their years as varsity athletes.

Arbeau, who graduated in 2006 with a kinesiology and physical education degree, is currently a high school teacher in Kitchener.

Bevan was a sociology and geography student who recently graduated back in 2009.

The former players were approached by Laurier head coach Rick Osborne who asked them to come back and help coach the team.

“Coaching was always something that I wanted to do,” Arbeau commented. “I think that being a [former] student athlete and living through that has made me a really good coach. I hope that I have something to offer because of my experiences here at Laurier.”

“I think knowing what the girls are going through from being in that role not too long ago [creates] a lot of perspective,” added Bevan. “I think we can help out a lot in that way.”

When Arbeau had initially joined the Hawks roster back in 2001, she was one of 14 rookies.

Five years later, the team would go on to win Laurier’s only national championship. Bevan was also a rookie that particular season and would later attain five-straight OUA championships in the following years.

“It’s changed a lot since then,” Bevan noted when reflecting on the differences between university hockey today versus six years ago.

“I think the speed has changed quite a bit. It’s definitely a lot faster [now], the shot quality is a lot better, and you’re getting a lot of players realizing they want to stay in Canada instead of the [United] States. I think that’s what’s making the quality of the league a lot better.”

“When I was here, Laurier was a developing program,” added Arbeau. “Now, it’s an expectation for [Laurier] to be in the playoffs and do well.”

Both assistant coaches agreed that the moment Laurier’s women’s hockey program really started to take off was when Rick Osborne stepped in and took over as head coach.

“The new coaching staff really turned the team around. The team was kind of headed downhill, and really quickly the team came together. If you look at the leadership and you look at the coaching that’s why this team won a national championship,” Arbeau explained. “He is known as one of the best coaches in Canada.”

“Rick’s an unbelievable coach,” Bevan concluded. “And an unbelievable mentor.”

As the newest members to the Laurier coaching staff, Arbeau and Bevan’s responsibilities range greatly both on the bench and behind the scenes.

Arbeau coaches the offensive players, whereas Bevan takes care of the defence. They are also responsible for video analysis and critiquing the team’s overall performance.

Both coaches also engage in pre-game scouting, where they watch Laurier’s opponents and develop strategies to overcome the opposing teams.

Finally, Osborne has given the two young coaches the responsibility of the power play and are primarily assigned to help the purple and gold get one thing: goals.

“Rick’s been really, really great,” reflects Arbeau. “He wants us right in there. We’re calling the lines, we’re calling who’s up next; we’ve got the board out; we’re showing them what goes wrong, how to fix it. It creates a little bit of time for [Osborne] to sit back and watch the bigger picture.”

“He takes what we have to say a lot of the time, and he runs with it.” Bevan said.

Both Bevan and Arbeau have assured that Laurier’s athletic program is one of a kind and functions well mostly because of the support it has from the school, community and its athletes.

“All [of] that is so important in making any program successful,” said Bevan.

The return of the two former Golden Hawks promises an exciting season ahead and ultimately shows that just because you graduate doesn’t necessarily mean you have to say goodbye.

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