Marcel Rocque makes no bones about his coaching technique: he’s an intense, results-oriented instructor who’s not afraid to be blunt and direct when needed.
His style meshed with Team Homan in the past and the 2017 world champions hope it will work for them this season.
Rocque, a member of the legendary Ferbey Four team in his playing days, has committed to serve as coach of the Homan rink for the 2018-19 campaign.
“They know who I am, I’ve never changed,” Rocque said. “I’m in your face. I’m happy but when things aren’t good, I’m in your face. I’m in your face and demanding.”
The 47-year-old previously worked with skip Rachel Homan, third Emma Miskew, second Joanne Courtney and lead Lisa Weagle before leaving for a two-year coaching stint in China that ended last season.
Rocque succeeds Adam Kingsbury as Team Homan coach. Kingsbury guided the Homan rink to its third Scotties Tournament of Hearts title and an Olympic Trials victory last year.
Kingsbury never curled at an elite level but the PhD candidate in clinical psychology specialized in helping the team with its mental preparation. He recently joined Curling Canada as a mental performance consultant and information/technology manager.
Homan settled for a sixth-place finish at the Pyeongchang Games, but finished the campaign ranked second in Canada behind 2018 world champion Jennifer Jones.
“They’re obviously talented and that talent doesn’t just go away,” Rocque said in a recent interview from Edmonton. “Now it’s a question of how to bring it out again on a consistent basis.”
Team Homan will represent Canada in the first leg of the inaugural Curling World Cup this week in Suzhou, China.
“We want to continue to push ourselves to be the absolute best version of this team and continue to strive to be one of the best teams in the world,” Courtney said. “I think the motivation is high.”
Rocque, who teaches and runs a culinary program at an Edmonton high school, won four national titles and three world crowns as a lead for Randy Ferbey’s team.
“For me personally, he was my inspiration as a young front-end player,” Courtney said. “A lot of what I do is from what I learned from watching him and also working with him.
“I know that he brings the best out of myself and he brings the best out in all of us. He’s great for accountability and he has no problem bringing up the tough issues with us.”
Rocque said he embraces different curling styles and skills, and won’t try to turn a curler into something they’re not.
“My expectation is I don’t like people to say things and then not follow through,” he said. “I like people to do, not to say. So if we say we’re going to do something, then to me, it just gets done. You don’t not do it.”
When he’s not attending events in person, Rocque will connect with the team for pre- and post-game calls via phone or video. There are plans for regular training sessions on non-competition weekends, although some team members will have to travel.
Rocque and Courtney are from Edmonton and Homan lives in nearby St. Paul, Alta., while Weagle and Miskew are based in Ottawa.
“In short, can we as an established team maybe continue to compete like this? Yes,” Rocque said. “For how long? I don’t know, because we are competing against professional teams now.”
Rocque won his first Brier in 2001 and captured national titles in three of the next four years. He turned to coaching shortly after his retirement as a player in 2010.
“He was the No. 1 guy that came out of our debrief discussions,” Courtney said. “We were crossing fingers and toes that he would be available and also accept to come back and work with us.
“It was a pretty short list and we were really excited that we gave him a call and he was able to commit to us relatively quickly.”
Team Homan has also worked with coaches Earle Morris and Richard Hart in the past.
Rocque said Homan, Miskew, Courtney and Weagle all own unique skillsets on the ice and have improved their in-game communication in recent seasons.
“There’s just some really neat dynamics on this team and wonderful personalities and wonderful characteristics,” he said. “They’re really good people and they’re maturing nicely.”
But like he’s always done, Rocque won’t be afraid to tell it like it is when required.
“You’ve got to be chill at times and you’ve got to know when and when not to do this, but when push comes to shove we’re in a business here,” he said. “And that business is defined fairly simply.
“So if we’re getting the results and we’re doing what we want to do, then yeah, relax. If we’re not, then look in the mirror.”
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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press