Coach AM

Two days ago, I officially committed to coaching the Washington Wild 8U Rep team!

Even though I am starting small with the youngest girls, I am really excited for the opportunity to influence the hockey development of these young girls. If you haven’t heard, hockey isn’t that big out here in Washington, and most of the girls who want to be really competitive, end up attended boarding school, or other programs like NAHA in Vermont. It’s so different being in an environment where hockey isn’t commonly known; when I tell people I play hockey, I sometimes get the question “like, on ice?” and I give a quick chuckle and answer back “yes!” enthusiastically.

It’s tough to grow a sport when there aren’t any professional sports teams in the area that players can root for. Take NY for example, now I’m not saying that hockey hasn’t always been big, but you can’t deny that there was a serious uptick in registered players and kids starting to play right after the Rangers won the cup in ’94. Same thing happens all over the country; Massachusetts has definitely seen an increase in the past few years since the Bruins Stanley Cup win in ’11, and they’re appearance in the Finals in ’13. No doubt has there been an increase in the number of players in California over the past few years with the success of the LA Kings winning the cup in ’12 and ’14, and then San Jose’s run to the Finals this season. There’s no denying that pro teams help, a lot. There are talks about Seattle getting a pro team, and I am all for it; in fact I wouldn’t mind making that my full-time job in a few years if there’s ever a team here. It would be a fun new adventure. In any case, since there aren’t too many pro teams around, a lot of the players hear about hockey through their parents, or friends, who are Seattle transplants.

Most of the people in the Seattle area aren’t originally from Seattle; thanks to Microsoft, Amazon, and a host of other start-ups, Seattle has seen an influx of people from all over the world, in search of working for huge successful companies. A lot of the parents I’ve met actually have roots on the east coast, one of them even lived in Poughkeepsie and worked for IBM for a few years (it really is a small world). When these folks start thinking about what sports they want their kids to try, hockey becomes one of first ones they think about, besides the obvious soccer and baseball/softball of course.

I am so glad that I am getting the opportunity to give these young hockey payers the best foundation possible to be able to succeed in this sport as they grow older. Learning the right skills when you’re young is so important because it shapes how you develop as you get older. That’s probably my main goal this season as a coach, to create an environment where my players can develop and have fun in the process.

Although I’ve coached a lot in the past, this is going to be the first hockey team that I will be the head coach of. I’ve done a lot of specialty clinics, camps, and private lessons, but I’ve never been the head coach of a hockey team. It’s going to be a steep learning curve, but I know that I have the best advisor I could ever ask for in my own Coach Dion.

If you’ve ever been down in our basement, you may have noticed binders everywhere; these binders are filled to the brim with drills, practice plans, and small area games. At this point, I swear my dad knows every single drill in each and every binder. Can’t wait to get my hands on them and start developing my own drills and style of coaching. I wholeheartedly believe that people are either good at teaching, or bad at it, and it’s a trait that you just have. I love training people and coaching them, and making them better employees, athletes, what have you. Hopefully my teaching style will develop over the course of the season, and I’ll be able to learn a lot more about how I coach, and how to be a better coach.

The announcement went live on Twitter and Facebook yesterday. I’m even on the team’s website.

I am very excited for this season to get going and to see how the girls are going to progress over the season. Who knows, maybe in 10 years when they’re about to be entering college, I could be recruiting them, or even giving them recommendations as to where to go. It’ll be a fun season, and I can’t to see what happens.



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