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TEAM PLAYERS 


PARTI OF 2 


They don't get paid, and they're never in the middle of a media scrum, but assistant 
coaches are integral part of the team dynamic. Gateway sports editor Robin Collum 
looks a little further down the bench to profile some of the University's best deputies. 

WRITTEN BY ROBIN COLLUM WITH FILES FROM PAUL OWEN 
PHOTOS BY RYAN HEISE AND KRYSTINA SULATYCKI 


M ost university volley ha!! teams would 
have a hard time trying to deckle 
which they wanted on their coach¬ 



ing staff more: someone who has been involved 
with the sport for more than three decades, or 
someone with degrees in biomechanics and 3 
specialized knowledge of the science of sport. 
Luckily for the Pandas, they don’t have to choose, 
as they have both in their technical coach. Dr 
Pierre Baudin. 

In addition to his PhD in biomechanics. Baudin 
has been coaching volleyball—mostly at the U 
of A—since the mid-TOs, including two stints 
as head coach: behind the Pandas bench from 
1978—80. and for the Bears from 1986-91. 

"I’ve !>een on campus, with only a few breaks, 
since 1971. either as a student, a professor, a grad¬ 
uate student, or a coach," he laughs. "I’ve been 
around volleyball for a long, long time." 

After his five years with the Bears. Baudin was 
tired of the gruelling travel sdtedule, and decided 
it was l>est to focus on his personal life. 

”My family was at that age where it was 
time for dad to be home a little bit more," he 
explains. 

But Baudin was far from done with volleyball, 
so instead of leaving the Bears and Pandas pro¬ 
grams, he stepped down to his current role as 
technical coach, even¬ 
tually focusing solely 
on the Pandas. It’s a 
part-time. volunteer 
posit ton that he feels 
complements his day job 
as a lecturer in the Faculty of 
Physical Education. 

"Coaching the technical side lias 
always been second nature to me. 


■‘Coaching the technical side 
lias always been second nature 
to me. It s the part I enjoy the 
most, and so that’s what 1 do." 


Dr Pierre Baudin 


Pandas Volleyball 


It’s the part I enjoy the most, and so that’s what 
I do." he says. 

"It allows me to bring the real world into the 
classroom, and 1 can take my' theoretical knowl¬ 
edge out with me to coach. Especially the biome¬ 
chanics and physiology knowledge I have, I can 
take it to the court—we call it the living lab. For 
me it’s a win-win. and I love to do it." 

Because of Baudin’s specialization—as he 
points out, taomeclianic volleyball coaches aren’t 
common—Alberta has a certain edge over its 
competition, which goes a king way towards 
explaining die consistent quality of players the 
Pandas program produces. The U of A lias made 
it to nationals 13 times since he rejoined their 
staff eight years in a row between 199.3—2000, 
and every year since the 2002/03 season—and 
have collected seven CIS banners in the process. 

“Pierre's volleyball and sports-science back¬ 
ground really qualify him to be one of the top 
technical coaches in the country," says Pandas 
head coach Iattrie ELsler, who feels that the 
clianges Baudin made to the team's blocking 
last season played a big pan in their winning 
the national champkinsliip. "Pierre lias a unique 
ability lo analyze die skill execution and have an 
immediate impact on the athlete’s performance 
and lake them from one level lo the next level." 

"Modest me, but I think [having me] is a big 
advantage." Baudin says. “How does our third- 
year athlete compare with a third-year athlete 
that's at another institution? I would say gener¬ 
ally speaking that we take athletes farther than 
those in other programs, and I think a large part 
of that is that other programs don't have people 
like me" 

But it's not just him: Baudin gives credit for 
Alberta’s dominance of the national volleyball 


scene to Eisler—now in her 16th year at the U 
of A—and the atmosphere she’s created for the 
coaching staff He says that site trusts her assis¬ 
tant coaches and makes them feel valued, which 
brings excellence and loyalty to die program. 

“The environment that’s created here [helps]," 
Baudin says. "When we went to nationals last 
year... I think our ratio of coaching stall to ath¬ 
letes was one to one. I'm pretty certain there isn't 
any other university team in the country-—of 
any sport—that has that. 

"it’s basically all volunteer, and the only reason 
people keep volunteering is that you are allowed 
to be a part of that national championship-win¬ 
ning team. 1 was a head coach, and I never did 
win a national championship, so I never did have 
that opportunity, but to be a part of it now—and 
to actually feel a pan of it—that's really impor¬ 
tant. That's what keeps you coming back.” 

Eisler. meanwhile, noted dial having Baudin’s 
office just a few down front her own eases the 
pressure she feels, especially when most teams 
don’t have the luxury of having a second full¬ 
time employee on the coaching staff 

"Having someone just down the halhvay as a 
sounding board and for uncondit ional support— 
coaching can lte a very isolating position—to 
have his ear helps me to sleep at night," site says. 



F or Cathy Butlin, coaching basketball isn't 
just something she does on the side. She 
has a master's degree in coaching from 
the U of A: leads die senior girls’ team at Jasper 
Place High School, where she teaches phys ed 
and math; and is the top assistant coach for 
the Pandas. She does it all because she loves 
the game, and has a passion for sharing it with 
others. 

“It’s very similar to nay career as a teacher," 
she says, explaining the appeal that coaching 
holds for her. “It’s giving back to youth, shar¬ 
ing your experiences with them, and trying to 
make them better people. 

“That's the biggest thing I get from it: seeing 
people grow, seeing them improve and them 
being successful, and feeling that you had a 
part in that." 

Butlin has a long history with the Pandas 
program, having been one herself She played 

five seasons 
here as a 


V 



guard from 1996-2001. so she lias a lot of per¬ 
sonal experience as a student-athlete. 

When she graduated, Butlin knew that she 
was done with playing full-time, but wasn't 
ready to give up the sport. So site decided to 
combine her love of teacliiug and of basket¬ 
ball, and started coaching. 

In fact, she liked it so much Lhat she went 
hack to school for a master’s in coaching from 
the U of A—becoming that program’s first- 
ever graduate—before retumingto the Pandas. 
This time, however, she was on the other end 
of the bench, and found it to be a completely 
new experience. She also found that she had a 
lot to learn. 

"I considered going full-time with coaching, 
but at this point in my life, I just didn't feel diat it 
was for me. and that’s why I’m teaching instead. 
1 want to get more experience before I step into 
a role like that." she explains. "Thai’s why 1 
did my master's, too. 1 knew the basketball side 
of it. but t lie re's so much more that tliere was 
to learn.” 

Butlin learned quickly, and is now an invalu - 
able part of the Aberta coaching staff—to the 
point that head coach Scott Edwards will |ok- 
ingly call her the "associate head coach." She 
works with the perimeter players during prac¬ 
tice, helps lay out strategy with Edwards, and 


coordinates subbing during games. She is per¬ 
haps equally valuable to the players, however, 
as a role model and confidante. 

“She’s got a great personality and rap¬ 
port with athletes; she's young enough to 
be not that far out of her [playing] career, 
so she knows what they’re going through," 
Edwards says. “One of her greatest strengths 
is her ability to talk to athletes on a one- 
on-one basLs and bring out the best of them 
individually—remind them of the good 
parrs of their game when they're down on 
themselves." 

in Butlin’s third year as 
a player, the Pandas won 
the national champion¬ 
ship. and they brought 
home silver in her final 
year as well. Her experience as a 
Panda, and especially one who had 
such a distinguished career, helps her 
players connect to her. and. she feels, makes 
her a better coach. Last season, Alberta went 
to nationals for the first lime since Butlin 
graduated, and her history was even more 
important. 

"I have a lot to do with decision-making, and 
they respect me for that but also just because I 
played here and did well.” 


“That’s tire biggest dung I get from 
[ coaching]: seeing people grow, 
seeing them improve and them 
being successful, and feeling that 
you had apart in dial” 



Cathy Butlin 


Pandas Basketball 


Check back on Thursday for the second half of our series 
on assistantcoaches, where we will profile Ron Thompson 
from the track teams, and Ted Poplawski from the Bears 
hockey squad.