Before being first introduced to Jean Guillaume in May of this year, I hadn’t heard much about him. I knew that he was a football coach, and that he was good at what he did although I wasn’t able to learn more about what he’s really done until meeting him.
When I first met him, I was on a zoom call with both myself and Redblacks’ defensive back Sherrod Baltimore to start up the documentary project, when he first got on and introduced himself I was surprised. Just hearing all the things he was naming off, him telling me what he’s been able to do since he came to the city, its unreal. Theres not a lot of coaches out there that are like Jean and that’s why, even though I’ve only known him for 5 or 6 months, I want to make sure everyone knows who he is and what he does for his community.
For more on Coach Jean Guillaume click on the link below to watch a piece on how he got to Ottawa, and what he’s been doing in the city since.
Starting his journey to Ottawa, the 613 Jean-Sorphia Guillaume was born in Plaine du Nord, Haiti. He later moved to Canada at 4 years old and lived in Montreal, Quebec while living in Miami, Florida for two years. In Miami he was there right in the middle of the time of the U and as he started to play football and learn more about the game in Montreal he started to appreciate that time because of the impact the team had on the future of football. The impact, similar to the one Earl De La Perralle had on Montreal. Earl, the founder of Sun Youth Sports in Montreal, Quebec had a big impact on Jean Guillaume’s life, “He taught me so much, giving me the opportunity to play, and be a coach early on in my life, and then to mentor me into being the coach and the person I am today, I couldn’t ask for more from anyone.” said Jean.
After playing at a younger age, Jean was also able to play at the university level. He played CEGEP with Vanier College as well as U Sport football with the University of Montreal. Although he may not have made a huge impact on the field, and didn’t become a professional athlete like we had saw in Sherrod Baltimore’s story, Guillaume has still been able to stick around both school and football.
In school he has been able to complete a Bachelors in Sociology, Social Services, Education and a master in Social work at the University of Ottawa and in football, his time at University of Ottawa was his introduction to the city of Ottawa and also his introduction to football in Ottawa as he was able to write a thesis about the importance of being a football coach on and off the field; L’entraîneur de football : un intervenant psychosocial? Analyse du rôle de l’entraîneur de football sur le développement des habiletés prosociales des adolescents présentant des difficultés scolaires.
Here in Ottawa he’s been able to make his presence felt on and off the football field. “I feel like he’s always been here, he was around a little bit for youth league ball and then being my coach at the high school level he’s not only been here as a coach but as a mentor. As much as he is our coach, I’m so thankful for what he’s been able to do for myself and others off the field.” said St Matthews’ student A.R Ismail.
With the on going impact that he’s made on lives at this point, as a mentor, Jean Guillaume was just recently named as Ottawa’s best coach. Winning the city’s Brian Kilrea award. “I’m not surprised” says mentor, Chris Jones.
In Ottawa he’s been known mostly as the head coach of the St Matthews Tigers in Orleans, who he’s led to two OFSAA championship games, having won one but the impact he has made on the high school has went outside the country.
He’s brought his team to play games in the US, the first one in Georgia at the Freedom Bowl, “The Freedom Bowl was just one of those great experiences that he’s given us, Coach Jean bringing us there to play football, showcase our talent and give us a big opportunity, I can’t thank the man enough for the trips he’s taken us on to show that we can play ball.” Quoted Willy-Pierre Dimbongi, St Matthews Alum and current UOttawa receiver.
Willy-Pierre Dimbongi is just one of many of Coach Jean’s players that are grateful for Jean’s part in his life and the impact he’s made on the journey’s that the players from Ottawa have went through. Like all of the division one athletes from Ottawa that Guillaume has been able to coach, and even NFL draft pick Neville Gallimore.
All in all, Jean Guillaume has made a huge impact on the city of Ottawa, knowing the amount of people that he’s helped bring to a high level of football is absolutely nuts, and there’s only going to be more. Stay tuned to see more on Coach Jean Guillaume as well as the football in Ottawa.
Part Three coming Saturday November 7th, 2020; The Journey from the 613.