Submitted by Mark Payne
When I was a kid I wanted to be a sportscaster, I realized that my love for the game was still there, while my on-ice skills weren’t up to par to play the game at the highest level. I never let that stop me and it eventually led me to coaching.
I have stories for days about the game and we will be sharing some of them every week to encourage more young people to get out and play hockey this winter. Hockey schools, equipment, travel have all become barriers to entry into the game. Every winter we see fewer players playing hockey. The valley has a huge advantage: it’s free to play outside on the lake!
My best hockey memories were playing with my brother in the garage and, between periods, watching the playoffs. We would collapse, covered in sweat, on the family couch between periods. As soon as the next period was over, we would be back in the garage to play game seven.
My father used to tell us that sport is the ‘sandbox of life’ and that he ‘takes all types‘. Over the past few seasons, his words have helped me navigate a changing world. When I was coaching the U18 Midget AA Blackhawks, we focused on “the team”. The slogan stood for ‘Teamwork, Attitude, Enthusiasm and Motivation’.
Two of the highlights of summer hockey camp were two Invermere players who both embodied this credo: Tobin Donahue and Paddy Donahue. Paddy, the eldest of three brothers, was a natural leader for the players, as an on-ice instructor and, if you were lucky enough to see him skate in the junior prep group, an excellent skater, quick with hands sweet. the Internet. He is a rookie this season with the Columbia Valley Rockies.
Paddy’s younger brother, Tobin: This kid gets it. He was always the first U13 player at the arena and always had a good attitude. I would arrive at the rink with coffee and donuts and the call was, ‘Hey Payner!’ My friends have always called me Payne and I have never been comfortable being called a coach and rarely respond to Mark.
One morning, Tobin described to me his friend Jake (who) was dealing with an injury. I was worried because two, three ice times over a five-day period in mid-August can be a lot to ask of the players. Jake arrived at the rink and explained his injury to me. His mother had warned him to wear sunscreen on the boat; she even added that a bad sunburn could make wearing her shoulder pads painful and difficult. Well, that was his injury – day to day with a sunburn. While I was worried about the Rockies forward, we had to take the opportunity for a nickname and ‘Sunburn’ was born.
Tobin attended week two of camp and on the second Friday he let me know that Sunburn would be back for week three. When Jake entered the room, he announced that he no longer had a sunburn but was starting to peel. So now we just call it Peeler.
In terms of coachable moments, one of the tricky situations is making sure the players are included in the laughs. After talking to Tobin, Jake’s parents, and Jake, we knew he was more than comfortable with the nickname. We had a harder time erasing the smile from his face, then putting his shoulder pads on too. Children of any age can be difficult to read and the emphasis should be on getting them to enjoy all aspects of the rink. It’s everyone’s sandbox.
While the competitive juices flow, it’s free to be nice and the game is meant to be fun! That TEAM slogan is how you develop winners and I’m not talking about hockey. Keep it fun this season!