Coaches conduct football safety clinic in Madawaska

MADAWASKA, Maine — Three guest Canadian football coaches put on a safety clinic for the combined Junior and Varsity Valley Mustangs football teams on Saturday, July 27, at the multi-purpose center in Madawaska.

“It was our first day in helmets and pads,” said Jesse Pettengill, head coach of the varsity program, “and we wanted our community to know how seriously we take player safety.  Our players should learn safety from the very best.”

In the off season, directed by their organization president Don Thibeault, the Mustangs made a huge commitment to player safety by spending $8,000 on state-of-the-art new helmets for players. 

Players and coaches took part in a football safety clinic held recently in Madawaska. First row, from left: Coach Mike Guay, Jainie Guillemette, Jiovanni Guillemette, T.J. Rhodes, Tanner Marquis, Hudson Labbe, Evan Michaud, Coach Jesse Pettengill; second row, from left: Coach Matthieu Lapierre, Coach Thomas Brante, Coach Martin Labarre, Frank Nadeau, Dylan Michaud, Lucas Theriault, Justin Post, Zack Pelletier, Henri St. Onge, Xander Gervais, Landen Michaud. (Image courtesy of Jesse Pettengill)

“This clinic is the natural follow-up to that investment,” said coach Pettengill. 

Coach Mike Guay of the Varsity Mustangs, former athletic director at Cegep de Trois-Rivieres in Quebec, and current student life coordinator at the CCNB in Edmundston, was instrumental in acquiring the talent to staff the clinic, including: Coach Martin Labarre, who has a degree in sports management, is a former collegiate football player, and current head coach of a high school program in Ancienne Lorette near Quebec city; Coach Thomas Brante who also has a degree is sports management, played and coached in his native France, and is currently a personal trainer in Quebec City; and Coach Mathieu Lapierre who has more than 20 years of coaching experience, including stints with the Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes, and the U18-U19 Canadian National team for international competition.

“As a coach we must find a way to teach our players to be in safe positions on the football field,” said Coach Guay. “Sometimes getting tips and reviews of technique from other coaches can increase a player’s progression. The practice was helpful in creating safe on-the-field habits for our players and to educate our current coaches on the latest ways of teaching football safety.  We are thankful to the guest coaches for their knowledge and time.”
The Mustangs are hopeful that the guest coach safety clinic can become an annual event for their players and staff.

The Mustangs are a not-for-profit organization with the goal of spreading a love of the sport of football, and to teach its skills to the population of the St. John Valley.  

“We believe football is an inclusive sport that teaches qualities to become a good citizen, such as commitment to a group, setting reachable goals, learning through adversity, and good decision making,” said Coach Guay. “We believe football strengthens our communities.”

The Mustangs encourage any Valley youth, on either side of the border, with an interest in football to reach out to them on their website:, or to contact the Mustang coaches directly at (French) or (English)

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