I have spent the better part of the last 4 years writing blogs about the Montreal Canadiens and enjoyed it a lot. This season I had every intention of doing the same, that is until I had the honour of Head Coaching my son’s U10 competitive team. I quickly realized that any hobbies and spare time were to be put on hold from September to March.
I asked Steve Warne, CEO of Sens Nation, the SWP and former Mayor of Barrhaven, if he would be interested in collaborating on a blog about minor hockey from a coaching perspective. Not only was he interested, but as a long time minor hockey coach himself, he plans to chime in with his own entries from his experiences.
Minor hockey is such a major part of many of our lives and it consumes most of our free time in the harshest season of the year in Canada. If your family isn’t a part of minor hockey, chances are you know one that is. You may even be wondering if that family is still alive as you probably haven’t seen them since September. I assure you that they are.
I hope you find this blog insightful, honest, and, at times, humorous.
Head Coach Math
Our season came to a crashing end on February 28. We tied the game 1-1 but had to wait on the results of another game being played simultaneously. Needless to say, the game did not go our way. We finished tied for 2nd in the round-robin but lost on a tie-breaker. If you really want to ruin an evening, walk into a dressing room of 5 coaches and 17 nine-year-old boys and tell them, “Sorry fellas. The season is over.” There isn’t enough Kleenex on earth for that speech.
I could not believe how fast the 6 months went. As many coaches can relate, when you are in the day-to-day grind of the season, you have no time to reflect on just how much energy and time you poured into the team. When the season is over, you are left mentally and physically exhausted. People who have never coached before have no clue what goes on behind the scenes when you are in charge of 17 players and a staff of coaches, a manager, and other volunteers. I have coached football for 20 years and was in no way prepared for competitive hockey.
What critics often forget is that coaching minor hockey is not our real job. We do not get paid for this. In fact, it costs us money. When you look at the chart below, keep in mind that U11 and below is the LEAST time-consuming level of coaching. We are capped at 45 games and 4 tournaments. If your child plays U12 and above, the time commitment increases a great deal.
The number of 523.5 hours is a staggering statistic. I’m pretty sure prisoners on parole aren’t expected to do that many hours of community service.
Do not for a second think that I am complaining or looking for martyrdom. In fact, I already submitted my application for next season in the hopes I get another chance to coach.
I am simply trying to educate parents and players as to the commitment it takes to coach a team at the competitive level. It is not a job to take on lightly.
In future blogs, I will write about the highs and lows of coaching youngsters, dealing with parents, how to properly do a road trip, and the most important job any coach will ever have: Find a good manager!
For the record, if I was paid minimum wage at $15/hour, I would have raked in $7852.50. Given that I live in Ottawa, I would probably have to donate it to the Light Rail Project anyways, so it is a moot point.