Coffee With a Co-worker: Coleen Dufresne
Passion, dedication, commitment: Those words can be aptly applied to Coleen Dufresne, current athletic director at U of M’s Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management. Previous athletic directors, she says, fought hard for their coaches and athletes. The commitment demonstrated by her predecessors and mentors Joyce Fromson and Walt McKee made a great impact on her own attitude.
Providing day-to-day support and resources to the coaches and athletes who comprise Bison Sports is a significant part of what Dufresne does. Sometimes it’s brainstorming about strategies, sometimes it’s just talking with coaches about their teams and how best to instill cohesion and success, she says.
“Student athletes give such a big commitment to their sport and to their team — to their university. Coaches do what they can to nurture and support that commitment,” she says. “I love coaches because I love that kind of person — someone who works for others with passion and dedication.
“Working with these young student athletes during a very formative time of their lives, coaches have lot of influence on them. They play a large role in the development of a young person, and they take it very seriously,” she says.”It’s an intense, demanding job,”
And she should know, since she started her career at the U of M as basketball coach for the Bison Women’s Basketball team — a position she held for 17 years before moving into her current one.
“My focus is always on high performance, and how we create the best environment for student athletes to be as successful as they can,” she says.
The former Olympian knows a bit about high performance herself. She was a member of the Canadian Women’s Basketball team, and got to compete in front of family and friends at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.
She was recruited here to coach after then-athletic director Fromson saw her New Brunswick team play at the championships hosted by U of M. Dufresne had quit her job as a high school teacher to pursue coaching, taking her master’s degree in sports psychology after she realized that she wanted to make coaching her career.
In addition to daily administrative tasks and her duties representing the U of M in regional and national university sports associations or committees, the athletic director also represents Bison Sports at many faculty and university meetings. But on weekends you’ll find Dufresne at games, cheering on all of the Bison athletes including her son Nicholas, who plays for the Bison Men’s Volleyball team.
“When I got here 25 years ago, I didn’t necessarily think that I would be here forever,” she laughs.
“But the U of M has been a great environment for me — the people, the programs. It’s provided me an opportunity to grow as an individual and to follow my passion.
“I love going to work.”
Q & A with Coleen Dufresne
One thing not many people know about you: I love to play cards and pretty much any kind of board game.
What puts a smile on your face? Chocolate.
Dinner with friends: Out or at home? Describe a recent memorable meal. Ribs and chicken or out at a restaurant. A few weeks ago I was in Ottawa for a wedding. My three siblings, their spouses, my 90 year old Dad, my husband and I had the chance to have a few meals together which rarely happens as none of my family members live in the same city. Can’t truly remember much about the meals themselves, but the joy on my Dad’s face sitting at the table with all his kids was something pretty special!
An unusual experience: Riding an elephant in Thailand.
Favourite place you’ve visited: I’ve been fortunate to have visited over 30 countries in the world and all because of sport. One of my favourite countries to visit was Izmir, Turkey and it was because both the country and the people were beautiful. But my favourite place has to be … HOME.
Something you find essential or enjoyable to do every day: Hug my son.
You are always thrilled to spend any free time: Shopping. I even love grocery shopping!
Something you do better than anyone else you know: Play Catchphrase.
Guiding principle or motto? Be committed to whatever you choose to do and do it to the best of your ability.
A goal: Find a housekeeper.
Where did you grow up? In the small town of Dorion, 25 miles west of Montreal.
Favourite childhood memory: Skipping – double Dutch – for hours in the driveway.
What you appreciate or admire in another person: Honesty.
Underrated: Saying hello to people. I’m always amazed at how simply saying “hello” can bring a smile to someone’s face.
Something eye-opening you’ve experienced: Watching my parents jitterbug and have the crowd form a circle around them and cheer.
Reading: I like to read books about successful coaches and athletes when I’m looking for inspiration. I also like to sit in the sun and read anything that doesn’t require any thinking.
Favourite TV show, blog or website: Love The Good Wife, Grey’s Anatomy and Hostages. I think it may be because they all have strong women in them.
Anything else you’d like people to know about Coleen Dufresne? My Mom was a talented Highland dancer and a beautiful singer who played the piano by ear. I do none of those things. I love to laugh, though.