John Dussault retired from the US Marine Corps and has been coaching lacrosse for 9 years. Coach Dussault is currently the offensive coordinator for the varsity team at Niceville High School in the panhandle of Florida. He completed the Soldiers To Sidelines Lacrosse Coaching Seminar at Johns Hopkins University in 2019. John has a fantastic life story of overcoming adversity and prospering as a role model and a coach.
John decided to begin a journey of coaching at a moment when life was difficult. “I needed an outside source to provide me with the same purpose I felt when leading Marines into combat. “
“I was going through a hard time dealing with my inner demons from combat deployments and trying to take care of myself at the same time. As I returned from deployment, I decided to head back to my home town in Quantico, Virginia where I was assigned as a Combat Instructor for newly commissioned officers.”
“As I transitioned from 2nd Battalion 8th Marines in Camp Lejeune North Carolina to my new duty station at Quantico, Virginia, I thought the same combat readiness posture would exist. In reality, it was not anywhere close. At this time, I needed something to do, I needed to find the same intensity, the same drive that I had experienced when I was in an infantry battalion.”
“Right around the same time, the opportunity to coach lacrosse at my old high school presented itself. Little did I know that this is exactly what I needed. First, there wasn’t an open position at the school for another coach. Head Coach Phillip Fant decided to give me a chance and was able to accommodate a position for me.”
Coach Fant hired John without knowing him personally, but since he had served as a Marine and played lacrosse in the past, he knew John would provide excellent value to his players.
“My first-day coaching I realized that I was more of a player of the sport than a coach,” admits Dussault. “Phillip Fant mentored me and transitioned me from a player to a successful lacrosse coach. Lacrosse, also called ‘the medicine game,’ has had an enormous impact on me and I could say that it saved my life. If it weren’t for Phillip Fant taking a chance on me and his mentorship, I don’t know where I would be today.”
Coach Fant, a Soldier Coach himself, wasn’t taking a chance. He knew the lessons from the Marine Corps create tremendous teaching moments for young lacrosse players. Dussault says, “My military experience has allowed me to transfer leadership skills from the military to the field. It has allowed me to coach the kids to have better attention to detail and respect both on and off the field. I think my knowledge of the importance of the comradery that I learned through the military has allowed me to better teach the players my favorite motto ‘one team, one fight’.”
John’s motto resonated with his players and they took it to heart in one of his favorite coaching memories. In 2013, Coach Dussault helped Coach Fant lead the Colonial Forge High School lacrosse team to the state playoff regionals. Sure, winning feels good, but it was the connection between everyone on the team that was most memorable. “I was amazed at how much heart and grit those players showed. They thought they were the lucky ones, but I think we as coaches on the sideline of that final game were the lucky ones because we got to witness those boys play with such a strong love for the game. They were out there having fun, and nothing else mattered at that moment. Even though we were defeated in the end, you would have never known by the passion and drive they showed throughout.”
Since coaching in Virginia with Coach Fant, John has prospered spreading the love of lacrosse throughout the greater Pensacola area. John has coached several youth and high school teams to help improve the popularity of lacrosse in Florida. He has worked so hard that he drove himself into serious illness this past winter, which he has thankfully overcome. John’s commitment to lacrosse and the art of coaching earns him the July 2020 Soldier Coach of the Month honor. We are proud to have him part of the STS Tribe.