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The Coach of the Month for February Is...

By Ontario Minor Hockey Association, 02/24/21, 5:30PM EST


Coach of the Month presented by The Coaches Site

This season marks the fourth year of the OMHA Coach of the Month presented by The Coaches Site. We asked for nominations of deserving coaches and after much deliberation, Mike Ellis of the Woolwich U9 team was selected as the Coach of the Month for February.

Here's his story as told by his nomination:

Coach Mike deserves this nomination for so many reasons it would be impossible to list them all. First, he is a dedicated volunteer who commits so much of his own time and energy to teaching our kids to learn the game the right way, with sportsmanship, skill development and a genuine love and passion for the sport. Second, his patience is limitless, which is perhaps the most important a coach can have in minor hockey. He is fair, stern when necessary and completely understanding to each child’s needs.

He has found a way, year over year, to gain the respect of the players and families and holds a special place in our community because of his kind nature. Our kids are each receiving an incredible minor hockey experience because of Coach Mike.

Coach Mike grew up playing his minor hockey in Drayton from U7 to U18. He eventually was an assistant coach in Kitchener before deciding to coach his son's team in Woolwich. His team is excited to get back onto the ice.

How have you had to adjust your approach to coaching this season?

It has been a challenge to roll with all the different changes that happen within the year. The pandemic has increased the amount of administration for almost anything that happens today. From being able to coach with the full team, to having to split that out into two teams to have under the 10 person maximum on ice. We've been focusing more on individual skill set, which is good, it's valuable.

How should coaches adjust their way of teaching when working with younger players?

I think it starts with understanding the audience. When we're dealing with younger children, we have to realize that there's different reasons for them to be there. And so understanding the reasons why they're there can help us individually personalize their experience. For me, it's more about raising good people, trying to build good character, as opposed to trying to build the next NHL player. So I couple that together, and I understand why a child is playing hockey, and then try to link it to the the ultimate goal of just building good character and building good people. I think we could all do the best we can to personalize the experience for each individual, and highlight those valuable people skills like teamwork that the kids can get out of the game.

Why is patience so important to make sure they have a positive experience?

I think as children grow and learn it takes a number of attempts. Even at home, you find yourself as a parent saying the same thing hundreds of times. You really have to recognize that very rarely are you going to be able to get your message across to a younger audience the first time. It's almost like an understanding that's the way it is. It comes back to understanding the scenarios and the situations for each individual child. Trying to understand the circumstance and just thinking about it long term is a reason why patience is necessary.

What's your goal as a coach?

It starts because of a love for the game. I grew up with hockey, and I attribute a lot of my personality, to the experiences that I had, as a hockey player The wins and the losses and the team dynamics and the friendships, all of that has meant a lot to me, and it's kind of created who I am. I want to be able to provide that opportunity for others. In addition to that, I feel like I understand the game and I've got a wealth of knowledge to share. And so I'm happy to have the opportunity to share that. Lastly, I love it's quite rewarding to see children grow and to see them progress.

Interview has been condensed for clarity and length.


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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The Coaches Site is comprised of individuals who have first hand experience in hockey as players, coaches, managers and parents from minor hockey, to junior hockey, international competition and all the way to the NHL. The Coaches Site offers a platform that supports coaches and a positive competitive culture at rinks around the world.

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