Never underestimate the value of a good hockey coach!
By Allyson Tufts
How do you measure the value of a good hockey coach? How can anyone fully understand the time and commitment they put into their team, simply for the reward of seeing their players thrive?
If you were to ask any retired player (are there ever really any retired hockey players?), they would tell you who their favorite coach was, how old they were when they played for them, as well as the color of their jerseys. They probably could even imitate their locker room speeches before the big games.
One of the most poignant moments between a coach and a player that I personally witnessed was when my husband was coaching my son, who at the time was playing house league hockey. He had a young redhead player on his roster that had not been on skates before. He was the cutest-looking young man, with freckles on his cheeks and a very quiet demeanor. (I was never sure if it was his idea to be there or his parents’.)
My husband would work with him on how to get his balance, and how to hold his stick. He’d tap the boy on the helmet each time he mastered something new. The one thing I noticed about this child was that he was so serious. He always worked very hard and I could tell it was so important for him to please his coach, but he never cracked a smile.
At the end of the season, we had a party and a small awards ceremony for the team. One of the awards given was for Most Improved Player, and he was going to win it. As my husband was describing this young player, I could see he was getting choked up, trying to get through his speech.
I watched the young boy while his coach was talking about him. He had no idea who he was talking about. It broke my heart that it didn’t occur to him that he’d even be a thought for this award. Finally, my husband said his name and this young man looked up with a smile on his face that lit up the room. A smile that caused his teammates to erupt with cheers and yelling that just about blew the roof off the building.
As the boy jumped up to get his trophy, my husband, also smiling from ear to ear, shook his hand and said, “Congratulations. You’ve earned it!” The boy replied, “Thanks, coach,” still beaming for being recognized for his hard work. I don’t know if that young man ever laced up a pair of skates again. But nobody can ever tell me that this moment between a good hockey coach and a player that worked together to improve, didn’t have an impact on that child for the rest of his life.
A Passion for Coaching
In recent years, one of my most eye-opening experiences has come from watching my husband on the bench as a non-parent coach. I used to think his passion for coaching came from being on the bench with his son. Although some of that was true, there was so much more to it than that.
I have witnessed firsthand the commitment that goes into being a good hockey coach. I’ve spent many evenings waiting for him to return home from hockey practice after a full day’s work. I’ve witnessed him inputting stats after traveling home from a game that was 3 hours away, just so he didn’t miss any well-deserved points for his players; players that were no relation to him.
I’ve seen the worry in his eyes when one of his players was having a tough time. And I have also seen the joy in his eyes when one of his players succeeds and scores that long-awaited goal, or makes that important save at the right moment in a game.
Time and again, as I’d watch him toss his bag of pucks in the car while the snow was blowing in every direction, I would ask him, “Why do you do this?” He’d often respond with no words at all; simply a look that said, “If you have to ask, you really don’t get it.”
Yes, there have been many moments that I’ve seen how much a coach gives to his team, to his individual players and their parents, all for the love of the game. I know that each year he coaches I’ll learn more about being on the other side of the glass. What I’ve learned so far has made me realize that you can never underestimate the power of a good hockey coach.
To learn more about Allyson Tufts or to purchase your copy of “Lessons from Behind the Glass,” visit her website.
This article is the property of Allyson Tufts and is not to be used or changed without her permission.
Written by Allyson Tufts, Author, Speaker, and Passionate Hockey Mom
Lessons from Behind the Glass