For her over 25 years of dedication to squash in the Yukon, Marie Desmarais was recognized by Squash Canada in receiving the Certificate of Achievement.
The Certificate of Achievement recognizes the significant ongoing contribution to squash in Canada at the provincial/territorial level.
Desmarais joined Alexandra and Trevor Bowes from Quebec and Bob Mansbridge from Ontario in being honoured with the recognition.
Getting the Certificate of Achievement came as a surprise to Desmarais. It wasn’t until people, most of them former and current players she coached, started reaching out to her.
“They were like ‘congratulations Marie’ and I’m like ‘for what?” said Desmarais. “But it was very nice to be recognized.
“I was very touched and very humble and grateful because to me, squash is so great.”
Desmarais still gets great joy introducing people to the sport.
“It’s so fun to be able to introduce people to squash and they can play it all their lives,” she said.
Desmarais hasn’t been on the court for three years she said, but in that time she’s held women’s clinics and done some junior coaching.
In January, Squash Yukon got a squash pro named Gyanendra Singh to take on the full-time coaching duties. Desmarais hopes with Singh on board it will help squash grow in the territory.
“We are so grateful to have him here, the squash board worked so hard to get him here,” said Desmarais. “He’s very enthusiastic and he’s sold on squash like I am.
“With him, I think we’ll see the face of squash change in the Yukon. We’ll build it up again.”
As squash moves forward, Desmarais hopes more women will get involved.
“I would like to see the increase in participation of women in squash, it’s been like that all over Canada,” said Desmarais.
When Desmarais got involved in squash in the mid-‘90s she said not many people knew about the sport.
“The hardest part about squash is getting people on the courts,” said Desmarais.
Squash used to be played at a court in Riverdale before moving to Better Bodies. The sport, Desmarais said, became more visible then.
The Certificate of Achievement is for those who promote the game tirelessly.
“It’s never been a job to me,” said Desmarais. “It’s easy to sell if you’re totally sold on it and I’m sold on squash.”
Once people try the game, Desmarais said, they will get hooked on the sport.
“People play it because it is fun and it’s easy to get a good game and you don’t need to be an A player,” said Desmarais.
Desmarais said she’s considered herself lucky to be involved in squash for so long and takes pride that those she’s coached are now coaching the younger generation.
Those at Squash Yukon are extremely proud of Desmarais.
“There is no one more deserving of this national award than Marie Desmarais,” said Stephen Buckler, Squash Yukon president. “Her contribution to the sport of squash in the Yukon has been nothing short of monumental.”
Now that’s she formally recognized, Desmarais said she won’t stop being the Yukon’s biggest squash booster, and hopes to see many new faces on the court.
Contact John Tonin at firstname.lastname@example.org