Dominik Walsh understood that he could have a career as a baseball coach in Quebec when, as a teenager, he began to rub shoulders with Jean-Philippe Roy. Tonight, his number 2 at the Diamonds of Quebec will join the 9 of his mentor in the heights of the Stade Canada.
Over the past decade, Walsh built the Diamond dynasty that would win four championships and make six finals in seven years. And this passion for coaching, the former manager had had in his veins since his childhood.
” We were young, Dave Dufour [ex-trainer of the Alouettes de Charlesbourg] and me, and our fathers coached, he says. We always had fun redoing the batting lineup, saying who should pitch… We were 8 or 9 years old at the time. »
But it wasn't until he joined Cardinal-Roy's Sports-Study baseball program that Walsh realized he wanted – and could – make a living from his passion.
“In my first year, in secondary 4, I saw a guy called Jean-Philippe Roy who made a living as a coach. It was then that it became clear in my head: this is what I want to do too, he recalls. It's a bit of an illusion to think like that when you grow up in Quebec and JP was the first person I saw doing that.
We see him celebrating the 2015 championship with his team.
He listened to the discussions
Jean-Philippe Roy remembers very well the young Dominik, freshly arrived in the program.
“Even when he was a player, in secondary 4 and 5, he was always close to the coaches, he listened to our discussions, recalls Roy laughing. He also asked questions: we quickly saw that he wanted to embark on this. »
When Walsh entered Cégep, Roy began to entrust him with groups so that he could leads them. The director of the Sports-Studies baseball program had seen in him “a pedagogy and a leadership natural “.
“The success of a coach is always relative, because you can be excellent, but not lead your players to victory, explains Roy. But he, from the beginning, we can see that it's not a coincidence. »
« There is his leadership, his sense of organization. But there's something else when you lead a team in junior baseball, he continues. Guys play in American colleges, they work. You have to create something special to get all your players on board. »
Uncomfortable, but happy
When he reads his boss's comments – because Walsh still works alongside Roy with the Canonniers, at Cardinal-Roy – the former manager will no doubt be a little uncomfortable.
Like he was when he found out the Diamonds wanted his number retired.
“At the time, I thought it was a bit of a prank,” he said. I thought it was a bit of a big gesture, but I understand that it was an important period for Diamonds. ”
“ I am a little uncomfortable to be placed like that in the spotlight, because when you are a coach, you put the players forward, he adds. Your goal is for them to perform, to put on a show. But it's going to be a good time. “
” To achieve what we have achieved, it takes a lot of favorable circumstances and a little luck, adds Walsh. The key, I think, is to adapt to the group of players. As a coach, you try to build the best team and when you succeed, you let them be themselves.
Nothing beats a championship
Walsh, 37, retired from the Diamonds in 2020. He wanted to spend more time with his wife and their two young daughters, but he remains involved in baseball.
He doesn't don't regret turning the page. His main job is with the Canonniers, but he likes to accept other assignments here and there. To stay close to the players, because, he says, “this bond is special and you can't find it elsewhere”.
This summer, he is coaching the Quebec team for the Canada Games, to be held in early August in Niagara.
But those golden years with the Diamonds remain etched in his memory, and that's what will make the retirement of his number so significant.
“For me, my favorite moments are the hour after the championship every time,” Walsh said. Players who are more relaxed, who savor the emotion with their family. For many, it remains the culmination of their baseball career.