Q: Who was your favorite or most impactful coach?
A: Recently while sitting on a panel, I was asked a question that really made me think. Who has been my favorite or the most impactful coach that I’ve had in my career? It struck me because it’s not something I’m asked often. Instead of quickly responding, I found myself sitting there thinking back on all the coaches that I have been fortunate enough to work with throughout my youth and college career. I began to think of what stood out to me as to why I would say one or the other. There was a trend. It wasn’t the coach that led us to our most successful season, it wasn’t the coach that changed my style of play… the ones that left an impression on me were the ones that taught me the lessons that stretched beyond hockey, lessons I still use to this day. Those coaches built my foundation of work ethic, morals and respect.
As a coach myself, I know sometimes we have so much focus on coaching the game of hockey – the skills and fundamentals of hockey – that we forget we are developing human beings just as much as we are developing hockey players. Coaches who realize the order of development – human development, athletic development and then the development of hockey players – consistently seem to be the coaches that leave lasting impressions on players, even at the highest levels.
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget the way you made them feel.” –Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou is right when it comes to coaching. For coaches, teaching the skills that will help a player improve his or her game on the ice is equally as important as teaching critical life lessons, and the coaches that can do that are the ones that will have a lasting impact on their players for many years to come.
The author, Emily West, played collegiately at the University of Minnesota, where she was a two-time captain of the Gophers and a Patty Kazmaier Award nominee in 2010. She helped Minnesota win an NCAA national championship in 2012.