Come next boxing season, the boxing club, and the community at large, will notice a hole somewhere very near its heart.
Doern, a stalwart of the community and founder and coach of the Two Rivers Boxing Club, is heading off to Alberta this summer to follow a job. Though the boxing community may miss him, he’s found a family to make sure it doesn’t crumble in his absence.
Matt Tessier and Tracy Murphy will be taking over the club, with their son Kyle Tessier helping out.
The Tessiers have been part of the club ever since they put Kyle in the club just over three years ago.
The Tessier’s commitment to the club, with Kyle never missing training and the both Matt Tessier and Murphy coming along with their son to watch, impressed Doern.
A year ago Murphy started doing secretarial and treasury duties when Doern was feeling spread thin and Kyle took on a leadership role within the club as well, leading stretches and taking on some of the training from the older boxers whose careers and families weren’t letting them out to the club as much.
So when Doern needed someone to fill his shoes, he turned to the Tessiers.
The transition won’t be an easy one, as the family moves to take the place of a coach that has nurtured the club since it’s very beginning.
“We have some big shoes to fill so hopefully everyone still comes and supports us,” Murphy said.
Though this will be Matt Tessier’s first foray into coaching boxing, he said it’s been a passion of his for a while. He also brings some martial arts knowledge to the club.
His real training though has been through Doern.
“Wally’s an excellent coach and for the past three years I’ve been watching him,” Matt Tessier said.
“We’ve been here three days of the week every time and I’ve been learning from him.”
This isn’t the first time Doern has left town to follow job prospects, but it is the first time he will hand the reigns of the club over to another coach.
Last time Doern closed down the club, a few of the boxers tried to keep it going but couldn’t put up with the weight of the club.
“It’s a lot of responsibility. Doern said.
“As a coach if you feel sick or like you don’t want to go, you have to go because you can’t have that door locked with people coming there. That’s not the way to do it.You have to go whether you want to go or not, or make sure you have someone to back you up.”
This time however, Doern doesn’t know if he’ll ever make to back to Quesnel, forcing him to find someone who’s willing to take on the responsibility if he wants the club to continue.
He said he’s happy to have found the Tessiers and is confident in their ability to continue the work.
The Tessiers, for their part, are happy to take a bigger part in the club.
Though Kyle has only been learning the sport for three years, he took to teaching when he was asked to head up the stretches.
Over time, that has morphed into teaching in other ways. And that teaching, in itself, has become a passion for the young boxer.
“I really enjoy teaching it; I love it actually,” he said.
“Sometimes I enjoy teaching more than learning.”
But the boxing club has always been about more than just learning how to punch and guard. For Doern, it has been about teaching young people respect and good companionship and keeping people out of trouble on a Friday night. And giving all of that at an price that was made affordable for everyone.
“Either you paid or you didn’t,” Doern said of system of fees for the boxers.
Having a child go through that training, the Tessiers knew how it could affect the young boxers for the better.
Matt Tessier said the training has had a big, positive affect on Kyle and Kyle agrees. Seeing that positive change in his son, Matt wants to help.
“We thought it was a great idea to keep the club open and keep his legacy going and have somewhere to come for the kids to showcase their skills.” Matt said.
And Doern isn’t going to abandon them to their own devices. Both the Tessiers and Doern realize that the transition will be hard and with the technology of the day communication will be easy. Between phone calls, Skype and emails, there are plenty of ways for Doern to communicate.
And when it comes down to it, Matt knows that simple distance won’t change Doern’s status in the club.
“If he comes to town it’s still his club essentially,” he said.
Of course, the change isn’t easy after 12 years of coaching.
“I have mixed emotions. It was my creation but I know at this point in my life I have other plans I want to see done,”
There are many memories Doern said he holds dear and acievements he’s proud of from his time in Quesnel.
One of the biggest things for Doern is watching young people in his gym, some with a history of trouble, sweating it through a training sessions of a Friday night.
“It was my biggest achievement,” he said.
It was efforts like that, to get troubled teens off the street, offering boxing as an option no matter what financial problems families might have, that made Doern an important part of the community at large, culminating in a nomination for Citizen of the Year.
And when he got those young people in the gym, it wasn’t fighting he was trying to teach them, it was respect and good sportsmanship in the guise of pugilism training, because respect and good sportsmanship can continue with a person as they continue their way through a life after boxing
One of his greatest memories ringside is taking the B.C. junior boxing team to nationals in St. Johns, Newfoundland.
The community also recognised Doern for his work in getting people to visit Quesnel by putting on his Rumbles by awarding him the community booster award.
The pinnacle of his time as a coach came just this year when he was inducted into the B.C. Amateur Boxing Hall of Fame for his efforts to build the sport here in central B.C.
It’s the people and the community Doern said he’ll miss, as the sport itself is portable and will be going with him in his training schedule.
“It keeps the blood pressure down,” he said with a laugh.
Doern waid he’ll miss watching the kids grow and coaching them through the sport, especially with a few up-and-comers that he sees some potential in.
But Doern, just like the dozens of boxers he’s coached in the past, has seen it’s time to move on with his life.
The boxers that have grown under his tutelage will miss him though.
“I’m definitely going to miss Wally,” Kyle Tessier said.
“Without him I don’t think I’d still be in the sport . He encouraged me to keep going, to go to the bag and to compete. He even encouraged me to start teaching.”
Dan Mott, one of the older boxers at the club, will be sad to see Doern, who he said was the main reason the club has stayed open, go.
“It sucks to lose him because he’s so passionate,” Mott said.
Now it’s up to the Tessiers to provide the passion as Doern moves on with his life to Alberta.But where ever Doern goes he’ll be a part of the club; after all, he’s just a phone call away.