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, Doug Rivard of the Riverside Rangers was selected as the Coach of the Month for January.
Here's his story as told by his nomination:
All coaches deserve recognition for their commitment and dedication to their teams but once in a while a coach stands out because of their team particularly when the team's players have special needs.
Doug Rivard started the Riverside Special Needs team in the 2018-19 season as a way to provide hockey to a group of players that are often overlooked. With just 7 rostered players he was able to motivate while teaching this very diverse group of players, how to play and love hockey.
Now in our second season of Special Needs Rangers, we have a roster of 15 players that are committed to their association and their team. Doug, along with his dedicated staff provide weekly practices as well as a few exhibition with our neighbours in Detroit, Michigan. The team will enter a tournament later in the season and proudly wear their Rangers gear to the rink (and at home!).
Doug's contribution to coaching goes beyond the regular drills and shooting. It goes to the heart of hockey and inclusion. We're grateful for Doug's commitment to our association and to this team of enthusiastic Rangers!
Doug has coached teams from Novice to Midget in both house league and travel for the last 10 years.
The importance is clear everytime the kids get on the ice. The pure joy that they feel with their accomplishments, the feeling of being part of a team, and the fun that they have is enough. Special needs skaters have really no other place to play and that just does not seem right. They are very much a part of society and should be treated that way.
They have absolutely improved. Each player improves in their own way and at their own speed. Many of our skaters could not skate or shoot a puck when they started. The other thing that is evident is how much they enjoy the challenge and embrace it.
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It would be great to see ourselves grow to a point where we can provide a few different levels of skill. While all our skaters are making big strides, some learn faster than others and deserve a bigger challenge while the ones that take a little longer to learn deserve some help that could be provided playing with a more scaled group. I believe this will come in time.
I would be remiss if I did not add that none of this is possible without Riverside Minor Hockey’s support and encouragement. And the parents, who we have come to respect deeply and who deserve to be recognized for they love and care that they have for their sons and daughters!
Please note that all previous submissions are still eligible for upcoming Coach of the Month awards and do not need to be resubmitted.