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Deflections: Should executive members of minor hockey boards be allowed to coach as well?

 

A friend of mine is a high school vice principal. When he was first appointed a few years back, he told his superiors he wanted to continue to teach a class each semester. There were a few sensible reasons for it. He felt it kept him in touch with student needs and allowed him the same “in the trenches” experience the teachers had. Plus, he loves teaching and didn’t want to give it up.

He took it a step further last year when, already a Hockey Canada coaching program facilitator, he ran a Coach level 2 course at his school from which students also obtained a senior physical education credit.

Clearly the fellow continues to regard himself as a teacher first, a school administrator second. However, he’s an anomaly. I know of no high school administrator in the board where I taught who’d done anything like this. Likely no one was allowed to.

In the minor hockey world, for the most part, people who sit on boards don’t coach, officiate or serve as trainers. I suppose they could offer perfectly sensible rationales as to why: not enough time, too busy with admin chores, etc. Indeed, the amount of administrative minutiae minor hockey has produced can be overwhelming. But have people at the top of the pecking order lost touch?

I’m reminded of this each time I step out with an age group I haven’t actually coached in eons. For instance, I recently ran a hockey practice for the lowest calibre of novice-aged kids (7-8) whose coach couldn’t be there (he was attending a Coach 2 clinic). Aside from hockey schools, I haven’t coached the age group since my own kids were that age many moons ago.

I’d forgotten the challenges of getting them to pay attention or copy what I demonstrated or do the simplest activity without falling. Herding cats would’ve been easier.

As we left the ice, with a few kids barely able to make it to the doorway without tumbling a couple of times, I wondered how on earth one changes lines in a game to ensure equal ice time. My junior boys hop the boards; these kids can’t see over them.

And then my little pea brain harkened back to situations where coaches have been taken to task by associations for so-called “playing their best” when in fact the only thing coaches were worried about was how to get them in and out of the doorway without a pile-up.

Maybe every association executive member ought to spend some time on the ice or bench with these teams to remember what it was like. Perspective counts, as does empathy.

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