Article by: Kayla U.

This year, the Bearcats gave a warm welcome to Mr. Zach Thibodeau, who currently teaches Standard and Higher Level Psychology as well as World History. Additionally, he has assumed the role of the JV Girls Volleyball coach and Aspirants Boys Basketball coach.

Coach Thibodeau was a serious high school athlete himself, having been a member of his school’s basketball, baseball, and soccer teams. Looking back, he sees sports as one of the dominant aspects of his youth, remarking, “One day after school, I started practice at 3pm and ended at 9pm because I had three different teams to train with.” He claims that one of the main differences between his hometown and Manila is that his hometown “lacked the art and culture that Manila has; what it had was sports.” In his hometown of about 8,000 people, sports were very important to the town’s culture.

Following high school, Coach Thibodeau attended the University of Maine for his undergraduate degree and he is currently earning his Masters in Social Studies by travelling to New York annually. Thibodeau was also once a student teacher in an Italian international school. Prior to his arrival at ISM, he spent four years at the American School of Taiwan in Kaohsiung where he taught classes similar to those he currently teaches. It was there that he started his coaching career, coaching varsity boys basketball and varsity boys volleyball. He also took on other coaching roles that came his way.

This year, he appreciates taking a step back from previous intense coaching roles because it gives him the opportunity to reflect on his coaching philosophy. “Winning isn’t made on the field; it’s made in the practice room, the weight room. It’s made in those 7am practice sessions,” he says. As a coach, he has a passion for the game, which he aims to pass on to his pupils, and states that his purpose is to teach kids to embrace becoming an athlete early on. He also values the lessons the athletes learn in discovering what it means to compete. Looking back on his athletic career, he states, “I wasn’t the best athlete. It didn’t sink in what it took to be a great athlete until the end of high school or early college.”

Coach Thibodeau has discovered a keenness and dedication among the teams he coaches. During practices, he finds that his athletes are always focused, despite their hectic lives. Although the IB course is rigorous, he says, “ISM students are so multitalented and their ability to balance their needs is exceptional.” These qualities are building blocks for great athletes.

There have been speculations about Coach Thibodeau assuming a coaching role in softball – but the future of this is uncertain. He hopes one day to become an IASAS coach. Bearcats should keep their eyes peeled for this coach, who many students and athletes have quickly come to love!

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