30 years ago, the program men’s volleyball the Red and Gold of Laval University wrote an important page in its history by winning its first national title.
The exploit is still present in the memory of the main actors on the 18th of march 1990, lived an unforgettable day. Eliminated in the first round of the canadian championship in the previous four years, the Red and Gold had caused a surprise by liquidating three small sets of powerful Bison of Manitoba that had not yet experienced the pangs of defeat.
The players and coaches were greeted at the airport by the rector of the time, Michel Gervais, to their triumphant return to Winnipeg. “This was one of the most beautiful moments of my life,” says head coach Clément Lemieux. You have few opportunities to take a first step in life. It was a great collective achievement and individual. We put an end to a long famine for the RSEQ (Montreal had won in 1970). We haven’t won with the best players, but with the best team. ”
Star player of the Red and Gold that was to have a brilliant professional career thereafter, which was conducted in France, Japan and the olympic Games in 1992 in Barcelona, Gino Brousseau was finally able to win a national title after three failures in the first round in previous seasons.
“After our victory in the first round against Dalhousie, the worst was done and we were on a roll, summarizes the new head coach of the Red and Gold and associate of Glenn Hoag with the national team. Even if we were ranked 2nd in the country, we were a nervous wreck before the first game. The tension was great. Our group of 12 players was stronger than the individuals. ”
Young cock landed in Laval since January only in the company of Sylvain Hamel after a passage successful with the Titans de Limoilou, Michel Cazes has brought an energy that has greatly helped the training. “Even if we did not win and that not many people in Las Vegas would have bet on us, I could not imagine that we would not, even if Laval had never won or come close to doing so. I had never known anything else than the victory and it was necessary to have a group that believed it. ”
“It was an accomplishment, to continue Cazes. On paper, Manitoba was better than us. We looked like a gang of Tintin. Francis (Demers) had the size of a louse, and myself and Martin (Roy), it was not large. They were big and large, but the oxen of the West knew how to play ball.” Marc Gagné completed the six starting. He and Hamel were the two giants of the team at 6 ‘5 and 6’ 6 respectively.
The members of the team strike a pose with their coaches after their victory in Winnipeg against the Bisons of Manitoba.
This strategy has paid off
Lemieux pulled a rabbit out of his hat for the final meeting. “Since the month of January, we made a game system for face Manitoba in the final, said the director general of the Patro Rocamadour, who had led the canadian team from 1992 to 1996 after leaving Red and Gold. We had used this strategy once against UNB during the Tournament, the Carnival at the PEPS in February when there was nobody in the stands or almost. Present at this match, the coach of Winnipeg who was a good friend, told me that I was a dreamer to believe you can beat Manitoba with this strategy where we changed completely our turnover in the next receipt to be able to always attack from the same place. ”
“It was not can not be earned in four or five innings if the game was stretched, but we get stuck the panties to the ground, to sue Lemieux. They have put in the time to grasp what was happening. ”
Hockey Cosom, magic and voodoo to have a change of ideas
24 hours prior to the canadian championship final have been very exciting ones.
Rituals of voodoo, magic, sewing and a game of hockey cosom have spiced the hours prior to the conquest of the national title.
Initiated by Gino Brousseau and Michel Cazes, vodou rituals are held on the eve of each of the three parties at the canadian championships, but the intensity has been turned up a notch before the final.
“We were young and a little bit crazy, crazy, mentions Gino Brousseau, who was awarded the title of outstanding player of the championship. It was part of the group dynamic. Our spirit body was strong without good sense. The guy behaved like in the movie Slap Shot. We dressed our doll in the colors of our next opponents. Before the final, it was burned before you leave for the gym. We were afraid that the jets depart. ”
One of the players of the team of 1990, Gino Brousseau, is now head coach of the Red and Gold, and assistant with the national team.
Physiotherapist of the team, Jean-Claude Savard agrémentait the evenings with a few magic tricks, which it was the hobby and that was part of the celebrations of a child in Quebec.
The players also took advantage of the evening to sew on to the collar of their sweater a ribbon. Dressed in white throughout the tournament, the Red and Gold has had to wear the red in the final because the Buffalo had the first choice. “Our sweaters were ugly and had the air of a gang of poor,” says Brousseau.
The morning of the match instead of holding a traditional practice, Clément Lemieux had brought 12 hockey sticks cosom. “It is not true that there is a need for training of more, points out the head coach. The guys were fun and they were relaxed. The ritual before the final made no sense. There were no taboos in this group, and the players wanted to go at the end of their dreams. ”
“When the Bison arrived at the gym and they have seen us play cosom, they capotaient,” adds Brousseau. This was a particular point of time. It was a tradition before each practice in the FACILITY and we played pig. ”
This spirit body had been cemented during the Holiday season during a tour of ten days in the West in the course of two tournaments. “We stayed in motels seedy, recalls Lemieux, and it was heat of the bines on our stoves thermos that we had made the trip. We wouldn’t see that today. ”
Two recruits who have changed the
The arrival of two new recruits of the first plan has transformed the Red and Gold that was ever to shine on the national stage.
After two national titles with the Titans de Limoilou, the attacker Michel Cazes and the central Sylvain Hamel joined the Red and Gold in the session of January to complete a solid group of veterans.
“Their arrival has been the key to success, says head coach Clément Lemieux. We had based our season on their arrival. At 6 feet 6 inches, Sylvain was our biggest player and just complete the work with Marc Gagné to the position of central. It was also a good attacker. ”
“As for Michael, it was a fighter with leadership qualities, to pursue Lemieux. For him, the word lose does not exist and was not in his vocabulary. There was no half-measure and it has brought us the “drive” that we needed. No matter the adversity, Michel was passing through and brought his teammates with him. ”
The arrival of Cazes has also had another advantage. “Gino (Brousseau) was among the three best players in the country, but there needed to be a patient next to him to explode, illustrates Lemieux. The combination Brousseau-Cazes was pretty incredible in terms of energy. ”
Cazes is to be paid the head of his chum when he remembers his arrival with the Red and Gold.
“Gino was not able to win alone and he was waiting for us,” he says with a wide smile. We were a gang of disparate. Francis (Demers) and Martin (Roy) were the intellectuals, while me and Gino, it was more of the players-students and student-athletes. We don’t earn our life as a surgeon. My five years at Laval were my best years in the sport of volleyball. There is nothing as a platform to play in Europe as I have done for a few years, but you are not developed not the same attachment to the guys. We are always happy when we see you. ”
During his long professional career and the national team, Brousseau has seen all kinds of volleyball players, but he believes that Cazes is part of a select group. “Players with his desire to win and winners like him, I count on the fingers of one hand, praise Brousseau. I would not hesitate to go to war with him and put my life in his hands. He was confident and gave confidence to his teammates. From the outside, some were arrogant, but this was not the case of the guys within the team. The 1990 season was one of the most beautiful in my career. My only regret is not having played for a year with Michel. ”
If Cazes has continued his academic career until 1994 with two other national titles (1992 and 1994) to his credit, Brousseau has made the leap for the pros, where he signed with the French club in Fréjus. “I received an offer and the time had come to move on to something else in my development as a player,” he stressed. In the following years confirmed that I had made the right decision. ”