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October's Coach of the Month Revealed

By Ontario Minor Hockey Association, 10/30/19, 10:00AM EDT


Coach of the Month presented by The Coaches Site

Coach Vladimir Samoila (second from left) and his Minor Novice team

This season marks the third year of the OMHA Coach of the Month presented by The Coaches Site. We asked for nominations of deserving coaches and after much deliberation, Vladimir Samoila of the Tecumseh Shoreline Minor Novice Team #1 – Green team was selected as the Coach of the Month for October.

Here's his story as told by his nomination:

Coach Vlad has expressed how privileged he is to be able to coach our children and see first hand their development and love for the game.

The values of our team are clearly defined: play safe, respect each other and have fun! Before they step on the ice, the children chant “positive attitude = positive results, bad attitude = bad results.”  The players have, through their actions and behaviours, been able to bring these words to life on and off the ice. Players are recognized and rewarded for good behaviour, while poor behaviour is addressed immediately.

Vlad and his coaching staff positively encourage personal development in each player. Our practices are filled with fundamental drills, increasing skill development through skill stations and small area games. Most importantly, because the practices are fun the players want to come to hockey, and they want to learn.

Vlad provides players with the opportunity to learn life lessons that they will apply outside the rink as much as they will on the ice. This is from the simple things like looking someone in the eye when you shake their hand and holding doors open, to the importance of helping others and giving back to our community. 

Vlad communicates, personally and individually, that he cares about every one of our players and their growth. The players do not leave the dressing room without hearing how well they did, being thanked for how hard they worked and told how proud he is of them.

Coach Vladimir started playing road hockey with kids on his street, playing against teams from other neighborhoods. He grew up playing goalie for Windsor Minor Hockey and was his first job was a timekeeper at the arena. As he grew older, Vladimir drifted away from hockey but was excited to come back when he was asked to be the head coach of his son’s team. He is the current coach of Minor Novice and Initiation teams and is also a convenor for Tecumseh Shoreline Minor Hockey.

As a Minor Novice coach what do you do to help create a love of the game in the sport’s newest/youngest players?

I am a huge proponent of the valuable life lessons that can be taught/learned through hockey. It is common for me to tell parents and players that I’ve learned more from sport that I apply to my professional career than I could have learned in any school, ie. How to be a good winner, how to be a good loser, how to be part of a team, how to deal with difficult people… the list goes on and on.

Parents are requested to clear the dressing room 5 minutes before we take the ice. This gives the players a feeling of independence and an opportunity to soak up the experience of being part of team on their own. We talk about safety and hard work and having fun and community and leadership and teamwork and respect and discipline. We always give credit to exceptional effort and we always tap our goalie on the pads whether we score or we get scored on. We help our players understand that playing hockey is a privilege and that their parents work very hard to provide them the opportunity. Working hard at school and listening to their parents all week will ensure their opportunity to strap on the skates the following weekend. The love of hockey clicks with our players when they realize that they’re becoming better people for having participated in the sport.

What are the benefits of cross-ice hockey that you’ve seen in your players?

I coach with ALL of our players in mind. The benefits of the cross-ice approach are most evident to me when I see players who might otherwise not touch the puck very often get an opportunity to execute a pass or get a shot on net. Reduced decision making time is helping the players think quickly about their next move. The small area makes them more aware of their surrounding which is a positive from a safety perspective. Constant changes in direction are helping players learn their edges and become better skaters. Being in close proximity to the play helps players to stay interested and engaged with what’s going on around them. Small area cross-ice hockey helps make players feel like they’re contributing to their team which will keep them coming back.

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How do you balance teaching players on the same team who may be at different skill levels?

We run station-based practices which allow us to lower the player to coach ratio on the ice. A coach working with 3-4 players at a time can give individual feedback and help players perform drills properly much more easily than in larger groups. Ability is often mistaken by those who reward players who finish a drill the fastest rather than those who do it properly. Speed is a byproduct of accuracy. Do it properly and speed will develop through repetition. Slight changes within a station can challenge players at different skills levels while allowing them to participate side by side. The addition of pucks or executing a drill skating backwards rather than forwards are couple of basic examples of this. Keeping a similar practice format each week while building on each station as skills develop gives our players a sense of familiarity that helps them prepare themselves mentally before the step on the ice.

What are you most looking forward to the rest of the season?

Each season we work on providing opportunities to participate in events outside of our normal Saturday/Sunday schedule. My fondest memories of growing up playing hockey were playing mini-stick games during hotel stays, team bus rides, tournaments, etc. In an effort to pay it forward, this season will be our second event at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. Last year our team participated in a 1st intermission game. This year they are allowing all 4 teams in our Minor Novice division to participate in an afternoon event prior to the game where we’ll have 2 cross-ice games going at the same time.

Submit Your Coach of the Month Nomination

Please note that all previous submissions are still eligible for upcoming Coach of the Month awards and do not need to be resubmitted.

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