The elite eight
Holding court with Joffre Ribout
For the love of God - it's just sports
Holding court with Joffre Ribout
By Chad Thompson
On the volleyball court, men's head coach Joffre Ribout lays down the law.
Born and raised in Kapuskasing, Ontario, Ribout said his days of spiking began in high school.
"There was a strong volleyball program at Kapuskasing District High School. The coach asked me to try out and I did," he said, adding the coach, who was a family friend, was one of the reasons he decided to play.
After their playing days are over, many athletes go into some form of coaching and Ribout said at the end of his gaming days at Laurentian University, a coach steered him toward an instructional position. "I wasn't playing anymore and was going to Laurentian. The coach (Kit Lefroy) asked me if I wanted to help out."
The road to Western can be a different path for many people and Ribout's journey was full of legalities. "I came to Western to go to law school. My old high school coach told me when I came here, to talk to [former Mustang coach] Dave Preston about helping out."
Ribout then spent five years as an assistant coach with Preston and when Preston left Western last summer, Ribout took over.
He said what he learned as an assistant was the importance of communication. "I learned the easy things such as the technical aspects. The more difficult thing I learned was the importance of communication among the players and the coaching staff. You have to have fluid conversation and everyone on the same page."
Ribout added he felt the interaction with the team was the best part of his position. "The best part of the job is seeing the player development as both players and as people." He said it was tough to name the worst part of the job. "There are some downsides, but nothing major, I wouldn't be doing [this] if it was that bad."
As far as what is needed to be an effective head coach, Ribout said he looks to the people around him. "The biggest thing is to have a good bunch of people working with you, from players to staff. The more support you have, the easier it is to coach."
Western has begun to build a strong team and Ribout said he could see a national championship in their near future. "We are a couple of steps away. We have been to the nationals four out of the past five years. We could grab the national championship over the next two years."
As a part-time coach, Ribout said he would have to make a decision as to whether he will pursue coaching or move into the professional world. "[It] depends on the career opportunity in coaching. I might take a lesser load in coaching for professional interests. I have a law degree, so I may pursue that or do my [master's of business administration] in the States."
The prospects for next year look good, he said. "Most of the players are coming back, if the players take care of themselves in the off-season, we are definite contenders for the national championship."
Recruiting was essential to any sports program and Ribout said when he goes recruiting he extols the virtues of Western.
"The first thing I promote is the diversity of the university. If you go on [in academics] you can stay at Western because of the different programs. The school name is known throughout Canada, so that makes it easier. I also tell them it is a great opportunity for a national championship because we have been there four out the past five years."
With Ribout at the helm, it looks as if the championship banner will fly at Western in the near future.