Thursday, October 15, 2009

3 Hours of Ice in 2 Hours Time

When people say that youth hockey coaches are dedicated, they usually refer to the countless hours put into working with players and doing their best to help them improve. But my goodness, I didn't realize it also entailed being in two places at once! Last night was definitely one of those hectic nights. It started with finding out that we couldn't end Bantam tryouts because a few new kids just registered, which means we need to give them some time to go through tryouts. Well, as coaches, you know immediately if you are going to take a kid or not, and we made that decision last night.

As I am getting ready to leave tryouts, we had two injuries within 30 seconds of eachother. The coach that was on the ice got a puck to the face (and ended up getting 9 stitches) and a player wasn't wearing his moutguard, and bit through his lip. Thank goodness for the good 'ol first aid kit! I have already used that baby 4 times in these tryouts, which is the most I've ever used it! Kinda stinks, though, that people get hurt in tryouts. What is funny, in a non-haha way, is that neither injury was because of rough play or an illegal action happening.

I left tryouts super early to go coach the Icebreakers scrimmage against the Xplosion. This scrimmage was a great way for me to see what we need to work on... zone coverage! I am not even going to touch on that, on-ice, until I feel comfortable that they have the individual skill to begin zone coverage. I have seen such massive improvement though on our first few practices that I am happy to say that these gals will do just fine when the games roll around.

I left that scrimmage 10 minutes early to go back to tryouts. Watched a few more minutes of it, and pretty much have my team down. Now it is up to the A coach to decide his team, and then I will take care of mine. A lot of the boys keep talking about the "Breezy Point" tournament, so whoever makes my team will definitely enjoy themselves up there. Tryouts WILL be complete by Tuesday night, and teams picked then.

Ahh yes, the life of a coach :)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Highland Bantam Tryouts and the Icebreakers Begin

After coming from one of the largest hockey associations in Eden Prairie to coaching hockey in Israel, this year will be a new and exciting adventure for which I am very happy to begin. Having the opportunity to change pace and go to a smaller association like Highland Central and coaching the Banta, B1s, and also working with women who only began playing a few years ago, is going to challenge me in ways that can only improve my coaching skills.

Highland Bantam Tryouts
Highland Central has a different process for running their tryouts. Instead of hiring outside evaluators to tell the coaches which players they will have, they allow the coaches to have full control over who is on their team. This process is known as the "Bantam Prospect Camp" and consists of placing all the players on three evenly balanced teams. Each team is assigned a coach (I am assigned to the "white" team), and practices with another one of the prospect camp teams. Each team is given 14 sessions, and coaches can attend all the team's sessions if they choose. We are told to choose our team based on these sessions.

The hardest part of this process is that we must not only organize all our sessions, but also grade the players while on the ice. What we have done is have some sessions where we run skill-oriented practices, and others where we scrimmage. For some the Bantam A coach and myself are on the ice, and others we sit in the stands to grade. We split the kids into four lists (for our own sake): A, A/B, B/C, and C. The hardest part are the "bubble" kids, or those kids who could play up but we aren't sure yet.

After getting off the ice tonight we are hoping to cut tryouts short so we can start team practices. The Bantam A's start games as early as November 1st, and my team has a tournament starting October 30th in Breezy Point.

WHAM Icebreakers
This is going to be such a fun team to coach! The team consists of women ages 25+, most of whom just began playing hockey a couple years back. Our practices, right now, are all skill oriented (skating, shooting, and passing). I have no idea when we will get into team oriented drills, but right now focusing on skills is the way to go.

Like some of the women have told me, they are much more fun to coach because "there won't be calls from parents and we can legally drink". One of my favorite things so far is that one of the gals came on the ice wearing a Spongebob jersey! Only in womens hockey, eh?

Games begin soon, and that is where I will really see how they match up to everyone else. Hopefully we can make it to playoffs!