Often lavished with praise as one of the finest coaches to lead Team Canada through the grind of the Olympic tournament, two-time gold medallist Mike Babcock is still managing to inspire Canada’s best from across the globe.
Though Babcock and his fellow NHLers are sitting out the 2018 Olympic Games at the direction of the league, the Toronto Maple Leafs coach reached out to a few Canadian Olympians on Saturday to do what he does best, according to curler Joanne Courtney.
“We were just finishing up our team debrief meeting around midnight, and then Cheryl (Bernard) came into the room with a phone call for Rachel (Homan),” Courtney wrote in her Olympic blog for Curling Canada. “And it was Mike Babcock.”
Courtney and her teammates were fresh off their first win of the women’s curling round robin — an 11-3 victory over the United States — when Babcock called to offer up his words of encouragement.
“We have so much respect for him as a coach, and he’s such a great guy,” Courtney wrote. “For him to be watching and thinking of us, it was really neat to hear his words and hear that he’s pulling for us. He just reminded us to keep our heads down, working as hard as we can to get the results we want.
“It really helped motivate us for our game today against Switzerland.”
It appears that motivation paid off, as Canada went on to defeat Switzerland 10-8 on Sunday.
For his part, Babcock said he’s simply continuing the tradition of Canadian Olympians banding together for the maple leaf.
“I’m a curling fan. I reached out when they won to say good luck and then tried to follow up,” Babcock said of his call, according to the Toronto Sun‘s Terry Koshan. “You bump into those athletes and you end up talking and they try to help you and you try to help them. I wish all Canadians well.”
Courtney and her team’s next challenge comes at 7:05 p.m. ET Sunday against Japan as they look for their third win of the round robin.