by Randy Pascal
The telltale signs were there early for Dale Beausoleil.
"I knew when I was at Confed that I wanted to coach and I wanted to teach," he said. Just to be clear, that was when the now highly decorated volleyball coach at Cambrian College, Lasalle Secondary and Northeastern Public School was still in high school himself, attending Confederation Secondary School in Val Caron.
In fact, while still a relatively young teen, Beausoleil convinced his then coach with the Chargers, Sam Demarchi, to allow him to tackle a team on his own. The results set the stage for years and years of incredible success to follow, as the talented multi-sport athlete guided a senior girls team at Confederation to their first city championship in school history, back in 1985.
"I knew that I could handle my own team," said Beausoleil, blessed with a ton of confidence, yet not a single ounce of arrogance. "I was still an athlete, but at the same time, I wanted to give back, I wanted to make people better, even in the classroom."
While he is now forever destined to be associated primarily with the sport of volleyball, Beausoleil actually found his first love in hockey, before migrating over to track and field, a member of the Sudbury Track and Field Club at the tender age of ten. With mentors such as Errol Gibson, Ron Wallingford and Bill McKetsy (among others) surrounding him, he need not look far for positive role models.
"I didn't get into volleyball until high school," he noted. "I was a left side and a setter. After OFSAA, I got three letters from different universities. That was kind of cool back then, because it's not like you were getting any money."
In the end, Beausoleil stayed home, attending Laurentian University, tackling supply teaching duties at his alma mater before he had even graduated, and taking charge of the Golden Shield women's program while still in his twenties.
More often than not, he has juggled coaching multiple teams in every single season, leading teams to championships at the elementary level, in the high school ranks, and even within the OCAA circuit. There are clearly some commonalities in play for the man with the magic touch.
"I am very technical with all of my age groups," said Beausoleil. "It's so important that I teach them at a young age, and that I teach my college girls that are new to me, that it's done right, so that they can be successful."
Talk to his athletes and you hear at least a few recurring themes, typically beginning with his ability to connect with his players. "You've got to get to know each of them as a person," he said. "I think that's really, really important." Perhaps the most amazing facet of the success that he has enjoyed is that Beausoleil has found a way not only to transcend age brackets, but also gender differences.
"You have to motivate them differently, for sure," he admitted. "In general, I would say that I am tougher on my boys, but I would also say that it depends on the team, a lot, on the skill set of the team. I can't go too tough on a team that doesn't have the skill set yet."
Which brings us to yet another Beausoleil strength: his impeccable knowledge across all dimensions and all positions of the game. "If you want to be good, you have to be good everywhere," he explained.
"I was a setter and a left side hitter, so I knew a lot about that – but I didn't know a lot about middle. So I had to ask. I remember bringing in a buddy who played at Mac (McMaster) in the middle. Back then, we didn't have You Tube, we didn't have videos. Now, it's so easy to learn stuff about every position."
Finally, there is his complete devotion to the game. "I watch volleyball every day," Beausoleil confessed. "The fun thing about volleyball is that you're always learning, and I love that." Just not nearly as much as he loves sharing all of that knowledge with the hundreds of athletes that he has guided over the years.