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The Impact of a Coach


I love coaching kids. Watching them develop, working together as a team, becoming friends and hopefully creating memories that will last a lifetime. I'm damn competitive and I love to win, but in the end it's about the experience that is always a bit better when you play well and when you win, but about the experience, nonetheless. I believe that as a coach you can have a profound effect on each player and you have a responsibility to ensure every child enjoys their time at the rink, the diamond, the pitch, the court or wherever the experience is taking place.

The role of a coach is very impactful! When I think back to my time in youth sports, I remember the coaches that had a"profound" effect on me as a player and as a person. None more that Dr. Earl Church and Mr. Doug Aitchison...or as I still call him, "Sir"! Mr. Aitchison was the reason I wanted to coach and because of his commitment to physical fitness, he was the reason I have always tried to stay in shape for the past 35 years...even with this  faulty elbow :)  Dr. Church, well, he was the reason I went to University and the reason why I am still running every morning. Then there were my two AA hockey coaches Mr. Warren and Mr. John Davidson who introduced me to training in prepration for the upcoming season...this is when I actually started jogging. Something I still do with Evan almost 40 years later!

Coaches can also have an adverse effect on children (and parents) as I unfortunately have witnessed twice in my son's short hockey career. A single coach can actually stifle the development of a child and turn him against a sport he loves. I've seen it, I've lived it. Coaches that play mind games with children who are too young to understand just what "dicks" (pardon my language) these coaches are being and the lasting affect their actions and words can have on them...all so they can fulfill some personal agenda.

This is one of the main reasons I wanted to coach. I knew I wasn't that guy...I wanted to make a difference, like the afore mentioned coaches did with me. I want the kids that I coach to look back and remember what a great year we had or lose (though winning makes it a little bit more As well, I didn't want Evan to be subjected to these types of coaches! It's a shame, but when Evan looks back at his one full year of rep hockey and the little bit of rep hockey he played the following year, he doesn't have those memories, it's quite the opposite! 

My son, though I love him dearly, isn't making the NHL. He's not driven that way. And I'm not a dilusional parent. I get it! You can tell at an early age if someone has the talent and the drive to take it that level. Even then, the percentage of individuals making the pros is miniscule. Evan just loves playing and competing, and if he's anything like I was, he'll have to work twice as hard as the next guy just to keep up. The year he spent the summer playing more hockey, training, going to camps he made his first travel team. I was so proud because he worked so hard. He had a pretty good year playing with older kids, but throughout the year the coach deflated him by berating him and his teammates before and after games. I won't go into details about how bad this coach was (using profanity and verbally abusing kids), but I will say that he ruined what could have been a great year and a great experience for MY son...that's unforgivable. 

That year he tried out for the "A" team and made it. This time we thought it'd be different. The head coach had been my assistant once and I had just finished coaching his son in baseball. The other coach had been a friend for some time and had coached with me for years. It was the perfect storm! I thought this was going to be a great year. Boy was I wrong. After a great development year, the year before, suddenly the goalie I had worked with all summer couldn't stop a beach ball and he was digressing. I was shocked. They had beat his confidence into submission, continually harping on his work ethic and the fact that he always wanted to have fun in the dressing room. They even had the nerve to send him home one night with an article on self-esteem and confidence in sport. Seriously...he was 10?! What they did do, however, was crush his the point he had one of the worst games of his young goaltending career....letting in a long shot from centre because he wasn't paying attention. The poor kid was defeated - defeated by the way the coaches treated him and by the way the other goalie was treating him. He would come home dejected after hockey. A sport we love. Isn't sport supposed to be fun? Well, all of a sudden it wasn't. 

So, I pulled him off of the "A" team and we went to House League (ugly words for those parents that are dead set on their kids making the NHL). It was an easy decision, even for Evan. He was immediately a changed kid. His coach was very positive, very supportive and he let me on the ice to help Evan during practice as a goalie coach! Evan won 20 straight games and only lost 1 game all year, winning the league and the championship and he had fun playing with and against his friends. Smiles all around. A "big fish in a little pond, instead of a little fish in a big pond" (as my Dad would say). The fun was back. My son was back! My favorite goalie was back! It wasn't the game, it was the coaching. The game was the same, the kid was the same, but the coaching was very different.

And now as I end a great year of coaching the Pee Wee HL, League Champion "Orangemen" and begin another summer of coaching baseball, I will continue to try and create those memories for the kids, all the while helping them develop their skills, create friendships, develop sportsmanship and compete hard every game! I coach children sports and I manage a staff of's not that different. Berate and humiliate people and you don't get the desired outcome that you want. Encourage, support, point out mistakes when they occur, work on correcting them, and then you'll see people do great things! You'll see kids do great things!

It's easy, really! Still, our sports teams are saturated with coaches who have forgotten that sports are supposed to be fun, at any level and they don't realize that they have a profound effect on the children they coach. If we all just sat back and remembered what made us love playing sports, maybe, just maybe, some coaches would rethink their approach and make it fun for everyone - the kids, the parents and the spectators!

I'm out. Thanks for reading.

Remember to Enjoy Every Sandwich,

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Posted by: DANIMA Dave


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