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I'm Proud of the Players and You Should Be Too

By Connor Cadaret, 04/02/20, 10:15AM EDT


A coach explains why his team's season was still a success

This past season was a dream come true. There was never a moment when I was away from the rink that I was not looking forward to the next time I got to be with the team. I found myself always thinking about how I could make this team the best it could be and do my job to prepare them to the best of my ability. As a coach, it was the best feeling in the world to be able to take a step back and see the results of this effort.

The messages and culture had been formed. Each player went into every game focusing on what they could control. Covering for teammates who were out of position. Holding each other accountable. When we hit adversity, they put even more effort into the team and trusted that, along with the coaches, we would be able to work our way out of it if we continued to play the game the right way. More times than I can count, players put the team above themselves. They suggested different strategies that would not directly benefit them but would put the team in a better position. This team that I had been so nervous to join back on that September evening in 2016, had suddenly become my second family. They accepted me with open arms and allowed me to provide them with life lessons along the way. They trusted me and my messages towards the game. We were all in this together. 

To say I was proud of what we accomplished these Playdowns would be an understatement. This family came together more than ever. Never quitting. Playing for each other. Watching them battle night in and night out was surreal to see. Watching them go on this magical run which led us to the Finals put a smile on everyone’s face. We were on a roll when the season was suddenly over due to COVID-19. No more practices to prepare for the Finals. No more meetings. No more motivational speeches. No more time together with our family. 

Being away from the team since the season has been cancelled has been very tough. Like I said at the beginning, I realize that this is such a small, small part of this global pandemic, but it has made me realize some important things. I realized that the ultimate goal, and something that many people strive for, is being part of something bigger than yourself. Knowing that you have an entire team of people, an entire second family that will do anything for you and will always be there for you no matter what. This is what I was missing when I stepped away from the game for the first time. I was missing that camaraderie and that family. Putting my effort into a common goal, with people who want success just as bad as you do. You can only get to the top if you do it together. There are no shortcuts to success and this team, this family, was so close to the peak. 

There were definitely tears when I heard the news that the OMHA Finals were cancelled and that my players, my family, would not be able to experience that championship feeling and see their dreams turn into reality. But immediately after the season was cancelled, my tears of sadness turned to tears of joy. I saw what I had been teaching as a coach come into reality. That night, I saw players reaching out to one another over social media. I heard our players were coming together, and being there for each other to talk their way through this tough news. I had players reach out to me to see how I was handling this news. Players were saying that this was out of our control. All we can do is focus on what we can do to help and trust that things will get better if we do. It made me feel as though I had done my job. I had done my small part to help develop these young men into seeing what is really important. They didn’t need to win a championship to become connected for the rest of their lives. They already were. 

As disappointed as I was to not be able to finish the season I was lucky to have met all these kids and watch them grow into young men. To every player that I have coached over my past four years in Stouffville, I thank you for listening to what I had to say (or at least pretending to). I thank you for reminding me what it means to be dedicated and passionate about something bigger than yourself. And most importantly, I thank you for helping me develop my passion for the game of hockey again and providing me with a second family that I loved deeply and will never forget. Championship or not, we will remain bonded forever and I look forward to seeing everyone soon.

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Connor Cadaret is a coach with Whitchurch-Stouffville Minor Hockey Association.

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