Volleyball Canada


Coach Profile: Olivier Faucher

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Once a star player for the Laval Rouge et Or, Olivier Faucher is back with the university, now looking to make an impact from the bench.

Faucher was named the head coach of the school’s women’s volleyball team this summer, entering his first season at the helm. The coach was a key part of the men’s team from 2004 to 2009, helping the school to a 2009 national silver medal, where he was named to the tournament’s all-star team. Throughout his university career, he led the program to four FQSE championships, was named FQSE MVP and to the then-CIS First All-Star Team in 2007, and was FQSE Rookie of the Year in his first season.

In 2007, Faucher joined the men’s national team, playing with the squad until 2013. His highlight with Team Canada was a bronze medal at the 2011 Pan American Cup. He also played professionally in Europe, spending time in Portugal, France, and Estonia.

After his retirement in 2013, Faucher joined Volleyball Quebec as a coach and was the head coach for Cégep de Lévis-Lauzon division 1 men's collegiate volleyball team for one season. He was named technical advisor and male head coach with Volleyball Quebec in 2018, served as an assistant coach with the Men’s National Team at the 2019 World Cup, and was an assistant coach with Volleyball Canada’s National Excellence Program.

Volleyball Canada recently had a chance to talk with Faucher about his coaching career and some general thoughts on coaching in the sport.

Volleyball Canada: How did you transition into coaching? 

Olivier Faucher: After my playing career, the executive director of Volleyball Quebec called me to see if I had interest in getting involved as an assistant coach with our provincial team. That is where my real coaching journey began. 

VC: Was it something that you always thought about?

OF: Always? No. Since third year of university, yes. I studied physical education to become a teacher. Midway through my degree, I realized that I liked teaching, but that I loved teaching to kids who wanted to be in the gym and learn. That’s when I knew that a teaching career wasn’t for me unless I would choose to become a coach. But even then, I didn’t know if I wanted to make a career out of it. It was in my mind, but I wanted to pursue my playing career before thinking about my after-playing career.

VC: Who supported you in the journey?

OF: There’s no surprise here: my family. First, my parents. They always let me pursue my dreams growing up until the end of my playing career. Without them, I don’t think I would have gone that far in the volleyball world. Second, my girlfriend! We’ve been together since college, so she knows and mostly understands how volleyball is a big part of my life, even if that means that I’m not home every night for dinner or away from home most weekends. Her understanding allows me to combine work and my passion. Finally, I must mention the support of Volleyball Quebec’s Executive Director Martin Gérin-Lajoie. He was the one who called to offer me the first opportunity to be a coach, and also the one who hired me as a Technical Director in 2018 to make volleyball my day-to-day job.

VC: Do you have any mentors?

OF: As a former athlete, your coaching is often based on how you were coached. So early on, my coaching style was a mix of two coaches who had a great impact on me as a player: Glenn Hoag and Pascal Clément. I see them as mentors since they influenced my coaching. But on a continuous path, Pascal is definitely a mentor for me. He and I stayed close since I left Laval as a player, so he was and still is, a great resource to talk about the game and the coaching. Also, I must include Dan Lewis as a mentor as well. Since 2019, I’ve had the chance to work with him on a few occasions (World Cup and NEP) and I did learn a lot with him. His passion for the game is contagious. The way he’s able to reflect on his work and on the technical aspect of the game helped me a lot in developing that as well.   

VC: What has been the biggest hurdle for you in your coaching career and how did you get through it?

OF: It is definitely the time I didn’t spend in the gym! Between 2014 and 2020, I had only one full season as a college coach (2014-15). Otherwise, I was only coaching with the provincial team programs during summertime. Out of my first six years into coaching, I feel I have only the equivalent of one season under my belt. So experience is a hurdle for me since 2018. I had (and still have) to assume greater responsibilities with Volleyball Québec and now with the Laval Rouge et Or. The way I’ve managed so far is to work hard to compensate for my experience, but mainly to be well-surrounded and establish good relationships with people I work with, so they can help me out and I can learn from them.

VC: This summer, you joined the Laval Rouge et Or as the women’s head coach – how have you been settling in to the new role?

OF: It has been a crazy first month but I feel that things are getting into place, slowly but surely. In the meantime, I sometimes feel overwhelmed by all that. I didn’t have much time to get things going before the first day of training, so there was a lot of adjustment in the first few weeks. Now as I keep going, I want to make sure my attention is on giving my best for the players and trying to get things organized at the administrative level. My plan for the team is evolving continuously, every week, as I learn more about every player. I try to stay patient and try to build our systems one part at a time.

VC: You played there as well in your university days, from 2004 to 2009. How exciting is it to be back at your university?

OF: I couldn’t see a better place to be coaching! I had five great years at Laval as a player, so the organization is special for me. I always felt at home in this building, so it’s nice to be back and contribute to the success of the Rouge et Or.

VC: Having only coached men in the past, will you be approaching this new role differently compared to your past positions?

OF: I hope not. I mean, there are differences between the men’s and the women’s games, but at some point, it is still volleyball. So I try to take what I believe in and put it in place.

VC: You were an assistant coach at the 2019 World Cup in Japan for Team Canada – what was that experience like?

OF: It was crazy. A lot of fun, but crazy. Before going, I knew that coaching in an international event was a lot of work with videos, etc. But I have to say that I never imagined it being that much. At the end of the tournament, with all the time I spent doing videos, I had headaches just from watching a screen. After the tournament, I said to Dan, “I wouldn’t do it every year, but once every four years, why not?”

As a young coach, living an international event for the first time, I feel fortunate that I had that opportunity. But I feel that it was so intense, that I wasn’t able to get out of it as much as I wanted.

VC: You also served as a technical advisor for Volleyball Quebec. What did that position involve and how do you think I will help you in your new role?

OF: That position I had for three years, and it involves a lot of things. My main task was to look over our provincial team’s program (programming, coaching, and evaluating) and all that goes around that (athlete identification, talent identification, etc.). I was also involved in coach education. I was responsible for training the learning facilitator (LF) and the coach evaluator. I was also an LF and an evaluator. The list goes on.

Even if there was only little coaching in that position, it gave me the opportunity to see athletes play and to see coaches coach. All the exchanges I had with the athletes or with the coaches gave me opportunities to learn about them, about me, and about the game. Also, it gave me the opportunity to know our sport system better and reflect on what we need to increase the level within our sport.

VC: Do you have any particular interests outside of volleyball and coaching and if so, how do you find the balance between that interest and volleyball?

OF: Since I retired as an athlete, I started to play other sports that I used to play growing up. So three times a week I would play hockey and badminton. That help my transition after my playing career… playing a sport where I’m not good enough to have a strong feeling of competitiveness made me enjoy the sport outside the performance. Now I can even play recreational volleyball just for fun!

But let’s say that since I took the job in Laval, that balance is not there anymore. With the new schedule, I had to drop those sports, so it is a new challenge for me to make sure I keep a healthy balance in my life outside volleyball. It is a day-to-day challenge.

VC: What are you most proud of in your coaching career?

OF: When I see an athlete I coached on the provincial team play college or university, I’m proud. Not because I think I had a lot to do in his path, but because I can see how he is growing in his own path in life. I’m just proud to see how they are doing, and how they are growing.

VC: What is your ultimate goal in coaching?

OF: Today, it is to create an environment where the Rouge et Or will have a special place in every athlete I’ll work with. I want them to experience what I had the chance to when I was at Laval.

VC: Do you have any advice for new coaches?

OF: To quote a mentor: “What got you here won’t get out there” - Glenn Hoag. So spend time in the gym, spend time working with other coaches, be open-minded to everybody you work with, educate yourself in coaching. The more tools you have, the more athletes you’ll be able to connect with and that way you’ll be able to have an impact on their life.


Interview: Josh Bell
Photo: Pascal Clément