‘I’ve always considered myself a coach’: Landeryou’s transition from athlete to coach

Tim Landeryou had a long career in racquetball playing for Team Canada from 2010 to 2020, with career accomplishments including three silver medals at the world championships and another three bronze medals at the Pan Am Games. But when COVID-19 cancelled the 2020 national championships, the writing was on the wall for him to call it a career.

During his time as an athlete, Landeryou always knew he wanted to stay involved in the sport post-playing career, but he just wasn’t sure in what way.

When Lorne Prentice, a long-time coach in Saskatchewan and a 2008 inductee to the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame, decided he was going to retire, a door opened for Landeryou.

“I like to joke that I’m like the relief pitcher,” he said. “I’m obviously helping the athletes that I’m working with, but for a lot of them — most of their development was through Lorne and the programs that he helped to start.”

Prentice, who ran the River Racquet Club in Saskatoon and was involved in the sport in Saskatchewan for more than 25 years, introduced Landeryou to the sport back in 1993 when the then nine-year-old and his family relocated to the province. Landeryou played squash in Ontario, but Prentice encouraged him to try out racquetball.

Nearly 30 years later, it’s Landeryou who is introducing people to the sport and taking on the title of coach, even though he’s always kind of considered himself to be one.

“As much as I’d like to say there was this precise point in time where I kind of had this opportunity — it just didn’t really happen that way,” said Landeryou, who has always been willing to offer support or encouragement. “It was just kind of a natural transition into something I’ve been doing for years.”

So far, he’s loving his new official role.

“There is something that is more deeply satisfying when you’re able to help someone else do something and accomplish a goal rather than kind of just doing it yourself,” said Landeryou. “Being able to look at things from a gameplay or physical perspective and say, ‘Hey, I think you’re gonna perform better if we can work on these areas and improve.’  Then seeing that improvement and the improvement in performance as a result is deeply gratifying — more so than I think I was expecting.”

Two of the athletes on the receiving end of Landeryou’s knowledge are Danielle Drury and Lee Connell, both of whom represented Canada at the IRF World Championships last month, with Connell winning a silver. He coaches the pair of Saskatoon products and watched as they live out their own dreams of competing on the world stage.

Drury recently made her first appearance in singles at worlds and Landeryou gave advice based on his own first-hand experience at the event — something he believes is a testament to the transition from athlete to coach.

“I was able to talk about my experience and I like to think that I helped. I’ve got experience to draw on, both a competitive and training perspective that allows me to help athletes when they come to me,” said Landeryou. “They know that I’ve had these experiences and they’re able to ask questions and have more confidence in my answer or information that I’m parting with because it’s personal.”

And while Landeryou isn’t the first athlete to transition to coaching, he hopes other athletes discover their passion and desire to assist others and will continue to grow the sport by following in his footsteps and others before him.

“There has to be that kind of internal drive — something in you that says ‘I really want to help. I really want to help people — in a very general sense — but specifically, I really want athletes to get better at their sport.’ If that kind of drive is within you and you get an opportunity to do some mentoring and really enjoy that, then I’d say to get into the education aspect,” said Landeryou, noting there’s support systems at both the provincial and national levels to help individuals build their knowledge base and feel comfortable in their role.

As for his own switch, Landeryou is proud to be giving back to a sport and province that has been a long-time staple in his life.

“I’ve had so many good memories created through the sport and a lot of my success and involvement was due to the support I got from the province. I probably wouldn’t have had the same experience or the same breadth and length of my career as I did if I wasn’t in Saskatchewan. There’s just so many good programs, so many good organizations and so much support here for athletes,” said Landeryou.

“I think ultimately, I just want to be a part of that.”

It’s time to say “Thanks Coach” in Saskatchewan during National Coaches Week Sept. 17-25. Today more than 19,000 trained coaches work with registered participants in Saskatchewan on different local teams, clubs and leagues. Across Canada, more than 1.8 million Canadians have received coach training and one in seven Canadians will coach at some point in their lives. Support the movement by using the hashtags #ThanksCoach or #CoachesWeek on social media.