Coaches Week Spotlight: Trevor Grills

September 21, 2021


Coaches Week Spotlight: Trevor Grills

September 21st, 2021

(Whitby, ON) - National Coaches Week is an annual campaign lead by the Coaching Association of Canada. Coaches week is an opportunity to recognize coaches for the integral role they play by taking the time to recognize and thank them for all there efforts. Join in on the week by recognizing your favourite coach on social media using the hashtag #ThanksCoach. Tag Rugby Ontario in the post so we can recognize them as well!

In celebration of National Coaches Week, Rugby Ontario is profiling coaches from across the Ontario rugby community. Today’s profile is on Trevor Grills. Trevor is a coach with the Barrhaven Scottish in Ottawa. Read more about Trevor and stay tuned to Rugby Ontario’s social media channels for more National Coaches Week content!

How did you first get involved with rugby?

Trevor: I first got involved in rugby as a Grade 9 student at my high school. In the spring I tried out for wrestling and rugby. I went to my first rugby practice and fell in love. Growing up I played soccer and baseball and the summer after Grade 9 I joined my local rugby club and stopped playing soccer and baseball altogether! Over the next 20 years, I played high school, club, and university rugby and have coached rugby for 25 years. As a high school educator, I have had the opportunity to meet students and teacher-coaches wherever I've worked and have met some amazing people along the way. As a coach, I've coached at the high school, club, university, and provincial level and most recently, I've been coaching in the Minors Program with the Barrhaven Scottish.   

What is your favourite rugby memory?

Trevor: I have so many rugby memories as a player and a coach. One of the most memorable times was when all of my players met Al Charron at the Rugby Ontario Minors Festival. It was amazing to see their excitement in meeting him and to hear their remarks about his size! 

What do you love most about the sport?

Trevor: I love that rugby is such an inclusive sport. Everyone is welcome, everyone can play, everyone can excel. With all of the opportunities for younger players to play flag rugby and in modified versions of the game, everyone is set up for success. As players get older, the variations begin to look more like the game. Now, more than ever, there are opportunities for players to play at school, club, regionally, provincially, and nationally with a clear pathway for players that want to play at the highest level possible. As players move away from playing, there are so many opportunities to stay connected with the sport and the rugby community. 

What made you want to become a coach?

Trevor: Following a year away at University, I returned to my highschool to help coach. After a few practices I knew I wanted to coach for a living. I got into education as a way to work with youth and coach at the same time. I have been coaching since I was in Teacher's College, and at my very first school practicum I got involved with the rugby team and worked with the teams. When I got my first teaching contract I was so excited to start coaching the rugby team and have coached every year since I started. 

Growing up, who was your favourite coach and why?

Trevor: Probably one of the most influential coaches that I had growing up was my high school coach. He was also my Grade 9 Geography teacher and was funny, entertaining, and knew a lot about rugby. I often think back to the impact that this teacher had on my life and try to keep the perspective that as coaches you never know the impact you might have on players.  

What challenges comes with being a coach?

Trevor: One of the biggest challenges that comes with being a coach is finding the right progression for the team. Right now, I have players who have been playing rugby for 7 years and players that are brand new to the sport. Practices need to be engaging and challenging for all, while not boring or discouraging for anyone. There is so much information to share with players and there is always something to prepare for. It's important to have a plan and work within the plan but at the same time balance how much you are pushing the team to the next progression. 

What challenges has coaching during the COVID-19 pandemic presented?

Trevor: Covid resulted in a number of young players being inactive for long periods of time. Many were at home, all had a period of online learning, and many had very few social opportunities. My team lost a lot of our momentum and players needed time to readjust and be ready to be physical and work hard once again. It has taken almost a full season to get back to where we were, but the Covid pandemic has really forced us to think about what we do and why we do it.  

What have you learned during the pandemic that can help you grow as a coach?

Trevor: The most important thing that I learned during the pandemic was that I was always coaching towards an opponent, game, or a competition. I was always pushing towards a goal, moving players through skills to "get ready". Having the opportunity to coach in the fall of 2020 and the summer of 2021 allowed me the freedom to let players play. To explore the game, to make mistakes, to be creative without all of the constraints of teaching and improving skills for the purpose of competition, just to "be ready". The players that I am currently coaching are young, and have a lot of years ahead of them. There will be time and there will be repetitions. I just need to remind myself that sometimes you need to slow down to go fast!

What is your favourite part about coaching?

Trevor: My favourite part about coaching is the relationships that I've built. It's great to get to know the players, their families, coaches, and volunteers that you meet through coaching. On my current team, I've known some of the players since they were 6 or 7 years old. To see them grow up and mature through the love of rugby has been incredible. The teamwork and camaraderie of the players on my team is incredible to watch, they try hard, they push each other, and they hold one another accountable. It's important to remember that players mature and excel at different times and to remember that there's a spot for everyone. 

How have you changed as a coach over your career?

Trevor: When I first started coaching, I focused on the structure and the pattern of play. My focus was having players play in a specific way, now I give players the skills to make the decisions, to see the field and play what they think is best. I structure all of my sessions through gameplay, using as many opportunities to gamify the learning as possible. Early on, I would spend countless hours looking for the perfect drill or activity to teach a skill online, now I make up an activity to focus on the skill I am looking to work on. 

What would you say to someone who is considering getting into coaching?

Trevor: Go for it! Coaching is challenging and rewarding in ways that it's difficult to describe. Rugby is a sport that many Canadians don't see on a regular basis, so there is so much work to do to develop an understanding of the game and to move a brand new player to a confident player. There is so much that can be done through sport to connect players, families, and volunteers and there are many long lasting relationships to be had! You won't regret it!

What are your goals as you move forward in your coaching career?

As I move forward in my coaching career, I hope to have the opportunity to coach at the Elite level.

Interested in becoming a coach? Visit our Becoming a Coach webpage for all coaching information. 

Visit the Rugby Ontario Coaching Corner page for coaching videos and other teaching materials.


Rugby Ontario is the provincial sports governing body responsible for the organization of rugby in Ontario. Our mission is to establish a stronger identity for rugby in Ontario by promoting the sport’s core values and by fostering a culture of inclusiveness and excellence on and off the field of play.

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Dalton Finkbeiner

Communications and Marketing Coordinator - Rugby Ontario

    647-560-4790 x 1006