bfl coty winner noemie tanguay e

Right where she belongs

Armed with playing experience, education and a passion for helping players develop, Noémie Tanguay has found success behind the bench

David Brien
June 11, 2021

“I’m a players’ coach who makes you feel good about yourself, and that on the ice is where you belong.”

That’s how Noémie Tanguay describes herself when asked about what kind of coach she believes she is.

This human approach is not only a source of pride for the young coach, it is also the basis of all her teaching as an assistant with the Titans du Cégep Limoilou.

“Whenever the players have difficulties, they know that my door is always open. I am a non-judgmental person in life, so they feel they can confide in me," says Tanguay. "It’s such a pivotal time [in their lives], these are ages where they’re discovering themselves as people, and I think it’s so important to offer them a shoulder to lean on, other than their parents.”

To fully understand why Tanguay values this approach so much, one must first understand her background in hockey. Growing up, the girls’ hockey programs available to her were not as developed as they are today. She had to play with the boys up to the U15 level before joining AA girls’ organizations in the Chaudière-Appalaches region. She then played in the Limoilou organization from 2011 to 2014.

In the Tanguay family, hockey has always been a family affair. Noémie’s older brothers, Maxime and Frédéric, have both played at competitive levels. Their father, Stéphane, would travel to arenas across the province to cheer on his children when he wasn’t behind the bench coaching. The constant presence in the stands of their biggest fans, mother Marcelle and sister Véronique, was always a source of comfort for everyone.

“I was often the only girl on the ice, so if I didn’t have them behind me, I probably wouldn’t have continued [playing],” Tanguay says. "My dad coached me for a few years and he’s always been involved in his community. It will four years since he passed away from brain cancer on June 17, but he still inspires me a lot. I definitely wouldn’t be where I am without him and my mom, brothers and little sister, who have always been my number-one supporters."

After winning three provincial championships in as many years with the Titans, including two as captain, Tanguay put an end to her playing career to jump behind the bench as an assistant coach. Under her tutelage, the team has won four of the last five provincial titles.

While the success was instantaneous, her coaching debut was not without its challenges. First, there was the closeness the Titans alum had with many of the young women she was now coaching.

“There were girls on the team that I had played with for one or two years," Tanguay recalls. "Whether you like it or not, by becoming a coach you’re definitely going to break your friendship with them in a way. I found that really hard. But I knew it was something that was normal if I wanted to make sure I had their respect and made my transition smooth.”

But the challenges didn’t end there. The Titans’ successes were intimately tied to the recruitment of players who came in with increased skill and talent as the years went by.

“As a former captain, I had a good understanding of what it took to get the team moving in the right direction year after year," Tanguay says. “But the girls coming in [to our program] today are so good on the technical side that sometimes I feel like I can’t help them with much on that level.”

“I think I’m a good coach because I’m articulate and I’m always positive. But I’m not a great technician on the ice – I’ve never been the best player – so I think it’s more my human side that sets me apart.”

Élizabeth Giguère, a U18 worlds silver medallist and Team Canada alumna who played under Tanguay with the Titans, is quick to agree.

“Noémie may say she doesn’t have the best technique, but you don’t have to be able to do everything yourself to teach it,” Giguère acknowledges. “The kids loved her so much because she gave them a lot of tips.

“She was someone I wasn’t afraid to talk to. She’s approachable, and I think that’s really her greatest quality. To approach her for advice and walk away with an answer every time is something I really appreciated about her.”

Seven seasons into her coaching career, Tanguay is not shy admitting she is still learning. Although the experience she has accumulated over the years will always help her refine certain aspects of her job, her education also plays a big role.

“In addition to my background as a player, I took a lot of courses as part of my bachelor’s degree that opened my eyes so much,” she says. “Not just with ethics and fairness in sports, but also with everything from sports psychology, harassment in sports, doping. These are all things that I am able to touch on and things that I read a lot about. That’s where I think I come in to make a contribution to the team. I would say that’s my primary strength.”

Through her studies, her own experiences and the different coaching courses she takes every year, Tanguay is always looking to improve. And always looking to ger her players talking.

This approach, which relies on human contact, interaction, transparency and honesty, makes her a coach who is not only respected, but adored by her players. For Giguère, it is no surprise Tanguay was named the national winner of the BFL Female Coach of the Year award in the high-performance (now referred to as Competitive) category.

“She was just starting out as a coach with me and I thought she was already good,” Giguère says. “With her charisma, the way she approaches people, the way she talks to others and the smile she always has on her face, she makes it fun to come to the arena and work with her.”

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

[email protected] 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

[email protected]

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

[email protected]

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