Thank you for coaching the initiation team this year. As you know, this was my 9th and final season with a child at this level, and I’m glad that you were there to help finish it off by coaching my daughter and 12 other boys and girls age 7 and under. I know that it takes a lot of energy.
I’ve always thought that the initiation years are the best years of hockey; each practice and game you and your bench staff helped show me why. Every time you entered the dressing room, you did so with a smile, and sent the message to the kids that hockey is meant to be fun. The kids responded in kind. And when there were issues with the kids acting disrespectfully to one another, you addressed it. You were kind, but firm, and consistently preached the message "be good to my teammates, be grateful to my parents.”
I love how you turned one of your old hockey trophies into the “Crosby/Price Hardest Working Player Award’, which was proudly carted to and from the arena by the recipient after each game. Players sometimes received the award for scoring a bunch of goals, but you always found a way to recognize those that were not goal scorers. Before handing out the award, you had something positive to say about each and every player in that room so they could leave feeling good about themselves.
As the team manager, I was lucky enough to be in the dressing room for these conversations, and I will tell you, it is one thing that will keep the kids’ passion alive for hockey year after year. Filling in occasionally as the back-up trainer, I found myself on the bench for the odd game. I never quite lived up to my threat of yelling as much as the enthusiastic opposing coaches, but watching you and your staff smile was as heartwarming as seeing the kids’ faces light up.
I’d like to highlight one of my favourite hockey moments of all time: Liam finally scored his first goal ever, and we both saw him turn to the player who had set him up on the bench and say “Thank you, Keegan”. Genuinely, it was one of the sweetest moments I have witnessed and it reminded me why I love my kids playing hockey. That sense of teamwork, friendship, and life skills is what you brought out in your players and is what they will continue to have long after they’ve hung up their skates.
You, and all minor hockey coaches, deserve so much appreciation. It’s not always easy, I know, but thank you. I look forward to many more years of minor hockey with you.
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