Field Hockey Canada > Canadian assistant coach Robin D’Abreo set for fifth Commonwealth Games

If the Canadian National Field Hockey Program is Robin D’Abreo’s second family, then going back to the Commonwealth Games this year in Glasgow is like going back to his second home.

When D’Abreo steps onto the sidelines as assistant coach of the Canadian Women’s National Field Hockey Team, he will be doing so as a part of a Canadian Commonwealth Games Team for the fifth time.

Whether as a player or coach, D’Abreo has been a part of every Commonwealth Games since the sport of field hockey was introduced at the 1998 Games in Malaysia.

“It was an experience that really built my confidence as a player because it represented playing hockey at the world stage,” he says of his first time representing Canada at a Commonwealth Games. “You clearly get a sense that you’re competing at a different level when you’re at a multisport Games.”

“This was an event unlike any I had experienced up until that point.”

Little did he know he would be experiencing it – something that many athletes dream of doing only once – at least four more times in his career.

“It does fill me with a great sense of pride and a great sense of accomplishment,” he says upon reflecting back, admittedly for the first time.

D’Abreo says that with each time he went to the games – 1998 in Kuala Lampur; 2002 in Manchester, England; and 2006 in Melbourne, Australia as a player; and 2010 in Delhi, India as coach of the Canadian Men’s National Team – his perspective changed, but the impact of representing Canada did not.

“It shifted away from the experience and more to the performance,” he says. “I was probably more polished and more mature with every subsequent Games.”

And while he knows performance is important, and is a lot of what he focuses on as a coach, it is also the idea of taking in the entire experience and feeding off it that he hopes to impart on his players.

“I think it needs to be a healthy balance about the performance and the experience,” he says. “Often the emphasis can shift away from the experience and too far into the performance.”

Having been on either side of that ledger, he hopes to encourage his athletes not to let that happen this year in Glasgow, because the experience never gets old.

“It is an unbelievable powerful experience. So I’m conscious of keeping that excitement, and keeping that sense of celebration with my athletes, especially the ones experiencing it for the first time.”

“I don’t want it to ever come across as something routine, something that is to be taken for granted, something that is to be taken with a sense of complacency.”

And it is likely that mentality that has made him one of the most experienced Commonwealth Games field hockey players Canada has ever had.