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Deflections: Recruit now! The never-ending search for coaching volunteers


A former pro hockey player writes a blog and one of his posts was about how he’d never coach minor hockey. In fact, he only spent a handful of seasons coaching junior then decided to run private clinics instead.

His commentary wasn’t exactly a ringing recruiting endorsement for people wondering if they should give coaching a try. His top ten list of reasons why he wouldn’t coach minor included a lot of great points, all true to some degree.

His blog page includes 75 comments on the topic. Except, there’s no way to tell if he was referring to AAA or the lowest levels of house league/recreational. Perhaps his own travails in elite sport as a kid and as an adult have jaded him.

So then, let’s say I’m running an association and we need coaches. Who doesn’t? If I point them to this fellow’s blog, they sure as heck aren’t going to be won over. Parents do all that? Interference? Second-guessing? Unrealistic expectations? Why would I subject myself to any of it, even if I had potentially decent coaching skills?

The reality though, is that the negativity and goofiness we read about (or see) happens with a rather small minority. And frankly, many of the issues arise because of poor planning and communication by the coach and a decided lack of mentoring support from associations. As in, “Thanks for coaching. Here’s your team. See you later - when the complaints roll in.” Plus, the higher the competitive level, the more of it there is. Indeed, for some parents, no coach is ever the right one.

But this is not the case everywhere nor has every coach suffered as a result. There probably isn’t a single coach without a parent horror story. Then again, every child has also had at least one teacher or camp counsellor who was a dud.

I recently heard an association board member complain about how difficult it was to find volunteer coaches, this in a house league system. As well, moaned the complainant, they have to take this course and that course...

I asked if they’d made any calls or sent emails. Had they gone after midget/junior age students? Was there something positive on the web site showing how gratifying coaching was? Did anyone know help was available, including having certification clinics paid for?

Blank stares to each question.

It’s about now that the recruitment process for coaches needs to begin. I suggest we ignore that chap’s commentary and focus on the positive impact coaches can have on kids, given the right help is made available. There’s far more to applaud than cringe at.

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