The Fort Frances Minor Hockey Association is preparing to host a pair of clinics for coaches and trainers next month.
A Level I and II coaches’ clinic is slated Nov. 13 and 15. The first day will consist of four-five hours of instruction, with eight hours of classroom time planned on the second day.
A full one-day “initiation” clinic (eight hours in the class and possibly more time on the ice) tentatively is set for Nov. 14—depending on the availability of an instructor from Sioux Lookout.
While both the Level I and II clinics are geared for the more experienced coach, the “initiation” one is designed specifically for new coaches or those with less experience.
“The initiation clinic is designed for those people who have never been involved in coaching before or haven’t been involved in recent years,” said FFMHA board member John Pierce.
Pierce said Level I and II clinics are beneficial for all coaches who decide to take the course, regardless of past experience, adding the $60 registration fee is a relatively small price considering the cost of bringing in the instructors for the three days.
The price of the “initiation” course is still to be determined.
“It offers coaches excellent coaching tips and even the most veteran coaches always find it worthwhile because it acts as a refresher,” continued Pierce, noting it is a preferred course for those planning on someday coaching at the ‘AA’ level.
Besides teaching the obvious aspects of coaching hockey, the clinics also deal with some of the distractions that often take place away from the game.
“You are always going to have some difficult situations where you are going to have parent-coach or player-coach conflicts,” stressed Pierce, a coach in the local minor hockey system himself. “Those things will always happen so it’s always good to be knowledgeable so that you can better handle the situation.”
“The clinics help the coaches if they have to go through some problems with either parents or players,” agreed FFMHA president Lynn Kellar. “But the key to the clinic is to help the players with the fundamentals at the various age groups that a coach is coaching, and to properly utilize the ice surface during practices.
“It teaches the coaches as to what skills have to be taught at certain ages and how to break down certain drills for the kids in order to keep their attention span,” he added. “The coach has to remember what age group he’s dealing with.”
The coaches’ clinics are held here at least every two years, based on need, and Pierce said they are crucial in keeping a steady flow of quality coaches in the minor hockey association.
“We would love to have them on a yearly basis because we would always like to have more quality coaches,” he stressed. “Coaches are the lifeblood of minor hockey and if you don’t have good coaches, then you don’t have a good minor hockey system.”
In related news, a one-day trainers’ clinic tentatively is slated for Nov. 7 in order to fulfill CAHA requirements that all ‘AA’ rep teams have at least one qualified trainer on the bench during the season.
While the clinic is mandatory for ‘AA’ teams, it is not for house league ones this season although it’s expected to be necessary for all minor hockey squads down the road.
“Even though you only need one person on each ‘AA’ bench, we would like to see three or four people from each ‘AA’ team represented at the clinic,” said Pierce, adding the fee has yet to be determined.
“And we would encourage house league teams to be represented as well because the new rule will affect them as well, probably next year,” he added.
“The course is long overdue in that it gives us an opportunity to protect the children,” he stressed.
“With kids nowadays, it’s important for teams to have a trainer to protect the emotional and physical well-being of a child,” echoed Kellar, adding he would prefer that people who are not coaches take the course.
“It’s often difficult for a coach to make a call [regarding an injury] when he has so many other things going on behind the bench,” he noted.
The trainers’ clinic, which will be taught by Ed Carlson, Jack Kellar, and Mary Waghorn, will deal with such issues as how to handle emergency situations, how to plan for road trips, and how to properly handle a life-threatening injury.