Time for the rubber to hit the road as they say. I was notified over the weekend that my quest to become the head coach of the Devil’s hockey team next season has been successful. Presumably after careful consideration of my application and interview in relation to other applicants for the position, it was determined by the selection committee that I am indeed well suited to take on this important role as teacher, mentor and influencer to a team of 13 and 14 year old young women. I’d like to think I was able to convey to the committee that I will do my best to uphold the position to the best of my ability through a successful season.
I am both excited and nervous about the challenges that lie ahead. My focus will be on developing the individual and team skills of each player in a positive environment. In fact, I believe my ability to accomplish the former is contingent on my ability to ensure the latter. Effective learning can only happen when the pupils enjoy working for their benefit and towards a common goal. Success for me will be measured in terms of the growth of the players as individuals and athletes; emotionally and technically.
In my first head coaching role in a few years and my first at the rep level, I realize I have a lot to learn as well. I expect my fair share of growing too. I will definitely draw on the past experiences I have had in coaching clinics as well as strategies, drills, etc. that I have gleaned from coaches I have worked with before. I will also rely on my staff, who have yet to be selected, resources the league will make available and many of my friends who have hockey knowledge. Last, but certainly not least, I will look to my team for learning cues. They will ultimately provide my validation.
The first big challenge I will face is the selection of the players who will make up the team. Here again, I will lean on a team of trusted friends/evaluators to help me arrive at a group of players we feel will work well together towards the aforementioned common goal. A group of players who will respect, trust and play together as a team. This first part of the job might also be the hardest as selecting players for a team also involves not selecting players for a team – there’s no way to remove history, relationships, opinions or emotions from the equation. I hope to be able to handle this process with objectivity and respect. I will do my best to communicate clearly while providing every opportunity for feedback.
The Devil will also have her challenges, as she’s now the coach’s daughter, which brings with it an automatic spotlight. I would not have applied for the position if I thought this would be a problem for her. So I expect she will embrace the challenge. I will help as admittedly I’m a hockey dad before I’m a hockey coach. More learning for the two of us to work through.
Lots to process, lots to learn – it’s gonna be a fun ride as any coach of any team can surely attest! Wish me luck.
But before any of that happens, the Devil and her team are still battling to extend this season with a berth in the Provincial Playdowns next month. To that end, their three-game (actually 4-point) series with their biggest rival (as previously documented ad nauseum) was extended to game four because of a 1-1 ties last night. The girls had a 1-0 lead going into the third period after dominating the game to that point. But they surrendered the slim margin on what can only be described as a goddamn fluky, bouncing shot with eyes. Such is women’s hockey where garbage goals abound; we’ve had our share. And so, the deciding game four will go tomorrow night on home turf. One more 32-minute round of heart-clutching torture mixed with delight; which we all hope will lead to yet more of the same on a slightly bigger stage to put a fitting cap on an already successful season.