This past Friday I said “goodbye” to my long time and close friend Yvon De Blois. It’s not like I’ll never see him again because he’s promised to keep in touch, and may even make it out for Olympic Trials[?]) but he’s been such a significant part of my skating career, so I’m going to miss him a great deal.
He recently retired at the end of the season and as of Saturday he’s back home in Québec with his family.
A week ago, my Mom came through Calgary and she and I managed to get him out for a late lunch. It was great to chat with him about all his experiences; he’s had a long career. My Mom pointed out that he should write a book about all of it. It would be a great read, no matter who you are.
We talked a bit about my development in those years. Yvon’s played a big part in keeping me in Short Track. When he saw me compete nearing the end of the 2001 season he approached my father and they talked about my coaching and training situation in Medicine Hat. It wasn’t great to be honest. I didn’t have anyone my age or ability to train with and the coaching wasn’t suited for the level of athlete I was striving to become. He saw something (my ambitions) in me and he started sending me programs.
All year round.
It was great. He even called every few weeks to make sure I was doing OK. There's a particular day he called that sticks out in my mind. He called on a Friday night or something and one of my friends answered the phone for me:
Yvon (thinking it was me and with a thick French accent): “And how is my little boy doing?”
Jesse: (turns pale): “Ummm, WHAT... sorry... erm, Liam!? Heh, I’m hoping it’s for you... I think...”
I had a good laugh about that. Just Yvon being good ol’ friendly Yvon!
The latest call from him was this past Friday, He needed help moving things into a cargo container that was heading out to Québec the following morning. Some of it was heavy lifting so he needed a second pair of hands. It was amazing; while moving I came across a number of boxes containing old credentials from World Cups and Olympics, awards, and pictures. I was blown away by it - a poster of the 2002 Olympic Opening Ceremonies with all of Team Canada’s Athletes and Coaches signatures on it, Newspaper clippings of his coaching and my favourite, a black and white picture of a younger Yvon accepting the award for the best coach (out of all sports) in Québec. When we were done, I choked back some tears and we said our goodbyes. I was so happy that he called me to come and help him.
Thank You Yvon!