403 18U’s recent trip to Montreal had many highlights, but few as endearing as the reconnecting of two coaches at the place where their relationship first began more than 20 years ago.

If you would have seen Rachele Believeau and Santisouk Phommachakr in 1997, the last time that Santi competed at McGill the coach-player relationship was just developing. McGill

Santi speaks quite fondly of her time at McGill, in fact – Rachele’s office is still in the same place as Santi’s two seasons there. Santi reminisced about the anxious feelings she would have when ‘summoned’ to Rachele’s office.

Rachele has been head coach of the University of McGill women’s varsity program for the last 26 seasons, and has coached the Martlet’s in over 1000 matches. She competed for the Canadian women’s national team as a setter at the 1984 Olympics, leading the team to an 8th place finish… it’s highest ever.

Rachel Beliveau and Joyce Gamborg

Canada’s Rachel Beliveau (left) and Joyce Gamborg jump for a block in the women’s volleyball event at the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympic Games. (CP PHOTO/COA/Scott Grant) (courtesy of: collectionscanada.gc.org)

She admitted that as much as she relished in decades of competing in the sport she loved, her volleyball playing days are behind her. Instead, she now plays tennis at the university, chuckling that she prefers to participate in something she feels she is improving in, rather than a sport where she is getting worse over time.

Rachele donated 2 hours of her time without even being asked, not to mention in the middle of a CIS playoff run, coming off a 15-13 set to the University of Montreal the night prior. She even went above and beyond to get the 18U team & coaches free tickets to that match the night after they competed in a local tournament.