Field Hockey BC’s head provincial coach and performance manager, John Sacré is stepping down after three years at the helm. During his tenure with FHBC, John’s insight, leadership and expertise has helped field hockey programming across the province move become more accessible, consistent across regions and standardized.
A former Canadian men’s national team player, Sacré began his coaching experience with the Falcons field hockey club while still a junior. After retiring from playing, he transitioned into coaching, leading many BC senior and junior teams, as well as the U21 Junior National Team. He also took on the roles of National Team assistant coach and Interim men’s national coach over the years, and coached the Canadian men’s over 50 team at the World Cup masters in Barcelona, 2018.
At a club level, Sacré has coached the Surrey Sharks and Meraloma women’s premier teams, as well as the Surrey Lions under 18 boys team.
As a player, Sacré was a dedicated member of Canada’s men’s team for 12 years. Combining his playing and coaching career, he was involved in several international events: four Pan American Games, two World Cup Qualifiers and one World Cup, three Junior World Cup Qualifiers and Commonwealth Games. He conquered three Pan Am gold medals – two as player and one as a coach.
Sacré’s experience were valuable assets to Field Hockey BC.
“John has been an outstanding Provincial Head Coach and Performance Manager,” said Jennifer Taylor, FHBC’s Athlete Program Director, who worked closely with Sacré through the High Performance programming re-structure in 2019. “From day one John took full ownership of his role and was 100% committed to improving the supports and systems FHBC provides to athletes and coaches. John is well known and respected in the Canadian field hockey and sport communities.”
The collaborative approach implemented by Sacré allowed different members and sectors of the field hockey community to be heard and help refine the organization’s plans, policies, procedures and systems.
“He is a trailblazer, always looking for new ideas and different ways of achieving success, and he is not afraid to take risks and try different approaches,” adds Taylor.
A strong advocate for coaches and the professionalization of coaching through mentorship and education, John Sacré helped create more opportunities for coaches to develop their skills and gain valuable experience.
“It has been nothing short of excellent,” added Kent McKinnon, a provincial coach who has worked closely with Sacré. “His knowledge and understanding of the game has taught me much throughout his time with our programming. He has given myself and many others the opportunity to grow and learn by being involved in the programming and coaching alongside many who have come before us.”
“I would personally like to thank John on behalf of all the coaches who have been involved, for his contribution and inclusivity. The opportunity has allowed myself and others to grow as coaches and further develop our ability to give back either at a provincial level or club level. The time spent with athletes in training and camp based environments has contributed greatly to exposing these athletes to structured training environments, with the aim to raise the level of hockey players and coaches. We thank you John very much for all you have done and look forward to what comes next for you”, Kent McKinnon.
John Sacré was pivotal in the development of a comprehensive and systematic athlete evaluation tool named the Gold Medal Profile (GMP) in collaboration with Field Hockey Canada. Jennifer Taylor notes that all of the athletes in the FHBC Provincial and Elite Programs are now evaluated through the GMP “and other sports have developed their own athlete evaluation tool based on John’s work.”
“Not only is this good from a coaching perspective, but it also allows athletes to receive constructive feedback so they can further develop their field hockey skills,” added McKinnon, who also believes that the evaluation process employed has allowed coaches to more easily review and re-evaluate players throughout the seasons.
Sacré also played a leadership role in the FHBC Provincial Pathway Working Group. “His technical and strategic skills helped redesign the FHBC Provincial Athlete Pathway and Program model making it more responsive and flexible and better aligned with club and NSO pathways,” added Taylor.
“John’s significant contributions and achievements over the past 3 years will have a lasting impact on BC’s athletes and coaches for many years to come, and the systems and processes he has put in place will serve FHBC well into the future. We wish John all the best in his next adventure.”
ONE-ON-ONE WITH JOHN
What would you like the community to understand about coaching?
John: There is a lot of time and effort behind the scenes to prepare the athletes and team. There are many aspects that they must consider: technical, tactical, physical, mental, and athletes’ social development. It’s like being a movie director and you are working towards everyone having a great performance!
How should coaches approach their education?
John: Go out and watch other teams and training sessions. Work on being yourself and develop your own principles, tactics, and ideas. The best education is really to go out and ask questions of other coaches. Bounce your ideas around with others to get feedback. Try to stay original to yourself and ideas. The second piece is not to limit your coaching experience. Go out and coach other athletes you may not know. Learn to be a head coach as well as an assistant coach. Build out your experience by coaching all levels, genders, and age groups, from club to top high-performance programs. The more you challenge yourself, the more you will learn from others as well as yourself.
What are the lessons you take from your time in this role?
John: Over the past three years, it has really reinforced for me how dependent we need to be in our hockey community to functionally work together at all levels. From Club to Provincial to National organizations, we need clear roles and responsibilities.
After three years with as FHBC Head provincial Coach & Performance Manager, what are you most proud of?
John: The way all our Provincial Teams performed and getting FHBC back on top of the podium again during the 2019 Nationals before the pandemic, restructuring and the realignment of our HP Programming, and providing new opportunities by bringing in new talented coaches and athletes by opening up the process to everyone.