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Meet February's Coach of the Month

By The Coaches Site, 03/01/22, 1:45PM EST


Coach of the Month presented by The Coaches Site

This season marks the fifth 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 Cwiertniewski of the Niagara on the Lake U11 HL 1 team was selected as the Coach of the Month for February.

Here's his story as told by his nomination:

This has been my son’s first year playing organized hockey and he is loving it. This is directly related to Coach Mike and Assistant Coach Dan!

Coach Mike has fostered a fantastic team spirit and team community. Despite a wide range of skill sets on our team - every player feels important and needed. Our coach works hard to uplift our players as well as giving them necessary instruction to help better their play. Team practices are well organized and use positive reinforcement to encourage the players to do their best and give maximum effort. After a couple of very different years with COVID - these young players (and their families) want to make sure that praise is given when deserved. Coach Mike is an excellent role model and leader for this team. We are very grateful for the time, effort, and dedication he has put in to coaching our NOTL Wolves U11 Team 1!

Coach Mike grew up in Niagara-on-the-Lake, and played minor hockey there until U15 when he moved up to play AAA. This is his first year coaching with NOTL, and he is thrilled to coach his daughter in the same great system that he grew up in.

How do you approach coaching a team with a wide range of skillsets?

Being a Local League team means we have kids with many different skill sets, and we make sure to balance those skill sets equally between each line. That being said, regardless of their skill level, every one of our kids works their heart out every game, which makes things easy on us.

What are some of the ways you enter your practices organized?

We usually play every Saturday and sometimes Sunday, and we practice Mondays, so it's fresh in your mind what needs to be worked on from what happened over the weekend. I always like to put emphasis on positioning and staying "in your lane" on the ice, because at the U11 age group the kids are still trying to figure out the game, and they tend to chase the puck together and bunch up in the same spot on the ice. That being said, I also like to carve out about 5-7 minutes at the end of each practice to have some fun and do something that's not so structured but still helps out their individual skill sets. This could be ball tag, ice soccer, or even a shootout where they can be creative and try whatever move they want. 

What are your main coaching goals for the players on a U11 team?

Coach Dan Plomish and I have two simple rules: work hard and have fun. We come from a smaller town centre and sometimes the games can be hard for the kids, but our job on the bench is to keep motivating them and make sure their attitudes stay positive. 


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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