Tribute to Pat Bobinski

Tribute to Pat Bobinski

Brendan Green's Tribute to Pat Bobinski (2017)

For those of you who may not know, Pat was my very first biathlon coach, and on behalf of Biathlon Canada I’ve been asked to share the following:

“Biathlon Canada and the Biathlon community as a whole miss Pat so much already. Pat was an integral part of our amazing sport. He was a pioneer, a talented coach, a community builder, a mentor and a good, good friend.

Pat did much for the sport of biathlon (ski and snowshoe) in the North, and by extension the rest of the country. We acknowledge and appreciate the time and heart he gave to the sport. He touched countless young people with his caring and wise spirit. Pat's twinkling eyed smile would catch you from behind the scope, across the trail or in a coaches meeting and fill you with a sense that you were valuable, welcomed and loved.

Pat had an unassuming work ethic. He managed to groom all the trails, setup and fix the range, organize and coach practice, teach and mentor so many and then bring us all together to enjoy his amazing fish soup all in one day. Truly amazing.

Biathlon Canada is honoured to present to Pat posthumously, his Competition Development Biathlon Certification. Pat's legacy will continue to teach us all. We are his legacy and will continue to strive to be better people, better athletes, to come together, support each other and share a meal together, chowder.”

And, on a more personal note, I would like to share the following few words:

Pat had always been a very close friend to our family before becoming my biathlon coach.   When I was born, Pat gifted me my very first pair of Nike running shoes.  I’ve hung onto them all this time, and I like to think that Pat had my athletic future planned before I could even walk.

When I was 9 years old and starting to make a name for myself on skis, Pat thought it was time for my first lesson in biathlon.  I remember it being tedious and pain staking to learn the difficult and confusing concepts of marksmanship at that age, but Pat was patient and we got through it.  One thing I will always remember about Pat was his patience.  We would spend hours at the shooting range together working on the simplest of tasks, and no matter how difficult it was for me, Pat would calmly coach me along.  We repeated this process of learning with patience, over and over, no matter how long it took.  Nothing was ever rushed, Pat was always positive, and above all he always had time.  He encouraged me to think and problem solve on my own, which are traits that would be become key in my career later on.  I feel as though we connected on the same level and understood each other well. We made a good team and we both believed that with hard work we could accomplish anything together. 

As I slowly became more independent with my training and racing Pat was always there for me and ready to help in whatever way needed.  Perfectly groomed ski trails would be waiting for me after school, a warm fire would be lit at the little cabin on the range, and Pat would be there when I showed up to train.  Throughout high school I was training a lot of hours, and the Ski Club became my second home.  It was not uncommon for me to be out here training by myself until 9 or 10pm at night, and when I finished skiing Pat would always be in the Ski Club to make sure I finished my workout safely.  Especially if it was below -20, which was a lot of the time, Pat would always be there to make sure I was ok, although he would never really admit to it.  His excuse was always that he had more work to do, but often I would finish my ski at night and walk into the clubhouse to find Pat asleep on the couch, and I would know the only reason he was still there was for me. He was always looking out for me in little ways like that.  

When I relocated to Canmore after graduating high school to train with the National Team, Pat would still regularly check in on me with a phone call to see how everything was going.  Making sure I was healthy, not too tired, and to see if I needed anything.  Whenever I was back home in Hay River my family would have Pat over for dinner to catch up, and the conversation would always quickly turn to biathlon. 

Now that I spend much of my time racing Europe, the reporters over there are fascinated with the idea that I come from a small, relatively isolated town in Northern Canada.  I get asked often about my Olympic aspirations and how I was able to accomplish what I have done while growing up here in Hay River.  To me the answer is simple - Pat Bobinski.  Without Pat I wouldn’t be where I am today, and without Pat, biathlon wouldn’t exist in the North.

In 2010, Pat was in the crowd to see my Olympic debut in Vancouver.  I knew he would be there, it was a promise he made to me years before when I was 14 years old.  For me it was a privilege to have him there and a memory I will never forget.  He put so much work into my Olympic journey - The Olympic dream was as much his as it was mine and I am so glad we were able to share in that moment together.  

Pat had always been my biggest supporter.  Since I started racing on the World Cup circuit Pat never missed a race.  He would drive over to my parents house in the early morning hours (often at 5am) to watch me race in Europe from a computer screen.  He and my Dad would always have a bottle of champagne on hand incase there was a result worth celebrating.  Afterwords, they would have breakfast together while debriefing the days race.   

If I could see Pat now I would have a lot to thank him for.  It wasn’t long ago when we last chatted over the phone.  We talked about biathlon and how my training was going, and Pat was busy, working tirelessly in getting everything ready for the upcoming Arctic Winter Games.  

The North will never be the same without Pat but his legacy lives on.  As winter approaches and I pursue another Olympic Games, I will be thinking of Pat each time I am on the start line, and remembering the role he played in getting me there.  Thank you Pat for believing in my dreams.