Don’t try telling Yvan Desjardins that 13 is an unlucky number.

A highly-respected coach at École Excellence Rosemère in Montreal, Desjardins, working with legendary coach Manon Perron in Skate Canada’s High Performance Mentorship Program, recently joined elite status by becoming the 13th Skate Canada coach to achieve the lofty Level 5 certification with the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP).

Level 5 is the pinnacle of the NCCP and highest status a coach can receive.

“It was definitely one of my goals,” said Desjardins of the Level 5 distinction. “I didn’t know when I would finish, but I wanted to get my Level 5.”

Skate Canada’s High Performance Mentorship Program provides professional development opportunities to a select group of coaches working with targeted athletes, including one-on-one mentoring to help coaches prepare their athletes for the competitive journey ahead.

A former national team member and world junior competitor, Desjardins originally received Level 4 certification while attending the University of Montreal more than a decade and a half ago. Plans for full Level 5 certifications were put on hold when Desjardins and his wife welcomed two children into the world. Coaching took a back seat to fatherhood.

Desjardins, who has been coaching for more than two decades, joined the High Performance Mentorship Program in 2014. Working side-by-side with Perron, Desjardins achieved his Level 5 status last August and was officially presented with his certificate of achievement during the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in Halifax this past January.

“It wasn’t about the actual level,” says Desjardins. “I was not looking for recognition. I wanted to be the best coach I can. I learned a lot in the program, and improved as a coach. Programs like this open your mind and allow you to see what other coaches are doing with their training.

“Working with Manon has been great. She reassures me that I’ve been doing the right things, and that means a lot coming from her. She also has a lot of contacts that have helped, as well. We all need mentors, in skating, as an organization and in life. You have to have that balance.

“That’s what Skate Canada is doing with the High Performance Coach Mentorship Program, and that is a very good thing.”

Desjardins has developed a special bond with all his athletes, including 2015 national junior champion Nicolas Nadeau. Later this month, Desjardins and Nadeau will head to Hungary for the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships.

“Nicolas’ father said to me ‘you spend more time with my son than I do, and I really appreciate what you are doing for him’”, says Desjardins, who also coaches Joseph Phan, the 2016 junior men’s champion.

“It’s a special relationship coaches have with their athletes, and those relationships develop each year. And it’s not just about the skating,” adds Desjardins.

“I want to push my athletes to be the best, on the ice and in life.”