After earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of
Montreal – playing five years with the Carabins and winning a U SPORTS
national title in 2016 – and then a specialized graduate diploma (DESS) in
sports management from HEC Montreal, the defenceman joined the Canadiennes
de Montréal of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) in 2017.
She spent only one season with the Canadiennes, calling it a career at the
age of 26 to become a coach.
“It was more or less by chance,” says Beaulieu, the national winner of the
BFL Female Coach of the Year in the Competitive category. “I started
[coaching] when I was 16. From then until my year with the Canadiennes, I
was a summer coach at the AAA level. I was a private coach for both boys
and girls, but I never really thought about coaching a full season. I was
so overwhelmed with what I was doing as an athlete that I never thought
there would be a next step.”
Beaulieu, 30, got a full-time job as a player development assistant with
Hockey Quebec, but to do so, she had to give up her on-ice career. The
benefits, though, were obvious.
“My work at Hockey Quebec gave me the opportunity to learn more about
development,” says the Stoneham, Que., native. “Someone from the Richelieu
region approached me because he really wanted to manage a team with a
woman. I don’t know how he found me or what contact it was, but it was the
father of a player I had met, and he said that he really wanted to run the
[Cégep André-Laurendeau] team with me. I told him I wanted to be an
assistant, but nothing more. Then I found out that I liked it more than I
thought I would.”
The following year, Beaulieu became the head coach of the Remparts du
Richelieu U18 AAA team in addition to continuing her position as assistant
coach with Cégep André-Laurendeau.
“I wasn’t surprised that I liked coaching, but that I liked it so much. [I
liked that] you do it all year long, on weekends, in the evenings... I
wanted to do it more than two months a year,” she says.
Beaulieu really enjoys teaching the kids. The fact her players have not yet
peaked allows her to maximize the role she plays in their development.
“Those players still have fun in everything they do,” she says. “They
really appreciate the investment you make and the time you take for them.
That’s something I really like about this age group. They are passionate
and still have plenty of goals to achieve at the college or national
levels. It’s an age group that is full of goals and potential.”
Still, it’s very important to have fun on the ice at that age. While
Beaulieu is well aware of this, she also believes that it is possible to
have fun and push yourself at the same time.
“I want the girls to like to surpass themselves while knowing that it’s
always necessary to have fun," explains Beaulieu, who served as defence
coach with the Titans du Cégep Limoilou last season. “It’s possible to have
fun while working 100% all the time. If you go out on the ice every day and
you love what you do, you will improve. At the end of the year, those girls
come to me for more feedback, to watch more videos. It’s a teachable
mentality and the girls want to get more. In the end, it works!”
It’s clear the young coach is passionate about her sport, whether she was
on the ice or behind the bench.
But nowhere is that passion more evident than when she is able to share it
“I’m very proud when I see a player’s passion grow over the course of the
year," Beaulieu says. “She already loved hockey, but she didn’t realize how
much she loved it for details that she probably wasn’t aware of at first.
As time goes on, as she practices things, she asks for even more feedback
and information. I’m very proud of being able to pass it on; it’s my
greatest accomplishment even if it’s not really mine. It takes an athlete
who is willing to do it to make it there, but it’s something I really enjoy
After coaching at the college and U18 AAA levels, Beaulieu does not intend
to stop there. Even if there is no rush, she is starting to think about the
next steps she could take.
“Obviously, I want to get as high as I can, but I think there are steps to
take before that,” she says. Right now, I am in Limoilou and I am really
proud of what I am doing. Maybe my next step would be to join Team Quebec
at the provincial level. That’s the next step I want to take, but I’m not
setting any limits. We’ll see where it takes me.”
Just a few years ago, Laurence Beaulieu would never have seen herself as a
full-time hockey coach.