Bobby Sylliboy is always on the move. When he’s not coaching archery in the Burnt Church First Nation community, the former police officer is working tirelessly for the National Aboriginal Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy (NAYSPS) and part-time with A Breath of Life, an anti-tobacco coalition group. The impact he has had on Aboriginal youth in his community has not gone unnoticed and for this he was recognized as the winner of last year’s Aboriginal on the Move Coaching Award.
The foundation of Bobby’s coaching career has been built upon a simple mantra, ‘do it for the kids’. His coaching began because children in the area were having trouble getting into sports, as there were no coaches to instruct them. He stated without hesitation, “If anyone needs a coach for something it’s either I’ll find them or I’ll help coach it.”
During his relentless quest to help the youth in his community, Bobby has become a highly successful archery coach. In 2015, he travelled to Prince George, British Columbia as part of the Canada Games Aboriginal Apprenticeship Coaching Program and next year he will coach at the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) in Toronto. Despite his travels, Bobby remains grounded and committed to the Burnt Church community. “Never take your community and put it down, always bring it with you. Whether it is a rock or a sage, take a piece with you and you will never be lost” said Bobby. This holistic approach is incorporated into Bobby’s coaching philosophy as well. Bobby routinely speaks Mik’maq with his athletes and often does a smudge before going onto the playing field. Preferring to be in the background, Bobby asks his athletes what they need out of him. “When I am there I try to be a parent, a coach and a psychologist, all wrapped into one” said Bobby. “You have to wear all these little hats and know when to take it off and when to put it on.”
Coach Sylliboy has been an avid supporter of the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) and all of the opportunities it provides. The in-class settings have allowed him to form bonds with other coaches around the province. This comradery is something that Bobby cherishes and his is eager to continue learning along his coaching journey.
Bobby was honoured to be recognized as part of our Leave Your Mark Coaching Awards last year. However, the recognition fails to compare to the unparalleled satisfaction of providing accessibility and opportunities for the children of his community. “The most I can get out of coaching is seeing a smile or a tear in the kids eyes” he said. “Then you know you did something, you know you mean something and you know the sport means something to them.”