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Deflections: Let's start at the very beginning


“Let’s start at the very beginning,

A very good place to start...”

- from The Sound of Music

I’m writing this because I have permission to do it.

It wasn’t my intention to take my coaching in a different direction with a bantam team, just to provide grist for this blog. In fact, it was an afterthought. Still, I wasn’t going to do it if the local association president felt it inappropriate. So when I asked him if I could occasionally blog here about my adventure with the team, he said sure.

As I pointed out a couple of weeks ago on this site, I was getting stale as a coach. Too many years in junior and with elite minor teams or even as a mentor had pulled me away from where coaching needs to be. A couple of years ago, a colleague who is a pretty active and effective mentor in a local minor association where his boy plays house league offered up a challenge.

We yak plenty about our experiences in elite hockey, which are all well and good, he said. And we also too often slag the better coaches for running off with elite teams rather than offering their skills to the younger or lower levels. How about we not do that, he suggested. How about some of us work with the kids who perhaps need the expertise the most? I’d not paid it much heed till a couple of months ago. And here I am.

The bantam team’s level is called rep B in the Ottawa region, an entry level competitive program that has house leagues “beneath” it in a relatively small association of about 400 players. The team feeds into a large AA program which itself leads to the elite AAA. Coincidentally, my friend mentioned above coaches the bantam AAA club.

There’s been debate locally about whether or not this association has enough players to stock competitive teams. Perhaps the answer lies in numbers. There will be no rep B atom team this year. Not enough interest. The pee wees will have enough players to stock a roster. My bantam group, as of last week, had less than 20 registered for tryouts. The midgets stood at nine. None of the teams historically have had much success since the rep B program started a few years ago. Just not enough skilled players to feed into it, no real development plan for either players or coaches, and questionable interest from parents and board members.

But my role as coach isn’t to address these issues and frankly, I’m not interested in being brought into the debate, though I’ve been asked. I just want to coach the kids and perhaps offer them something they’ve not seen before.

Judging from the initial parents meeting last week, I suspect they have an inkling that surprises are in store.

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