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The Coach of the Month for October Is...

By The Coaches Site, 10/26/22, 12:00PM EDT


Coach of the Month presented by The Coaches Site

This season marks the sixth year of the OMHA Coach of the Month presented by The Coaches Site. We asked for nominations of deserving coaches and after much deliberation, Kory Yungblut of the Thorold U13 B team was selected as the Coach of the Month for October.

Here's his story as told by his nomination:

Kory's commitment to the team of young players has been fantastic. His approach with the new players to the team has been engaging and has allowed the development of a sense of community and developed a strong bond of trust between the players. Further, Kory's leadership in the team and the organization has led to a shift away from the win at all cost attitude to a development approach for the entire organization.

His previous experience and success as a coach has helped stabilize the organization to develop a new plan and new goals to unite the group.

His approach to bringing in the U21's to help coach the younger kids will help to ensure that this change will continue for a long time in the future.

In summary he has used his skills as a leader, mentor, parent and friend to create a positive environment for all the members of the TAAA and specifically the U13 B team.

Coach Kory grew up in the Niagara, playing both house league and rep. He started as an "on ice helper" when playing U18 for his younger brother's team in U15 and has remained behind the bench in various roles ever since. He has coached at every minor hockey level from hockey school to U21, local league to AAA. Kory enjoys coaching and mentoring players and having the opportunity to coach his son is a special role for him.

How did you help shift the attitude of ‘win at all costs’ to a more development focused approach?

I started by addressing it at our parents meeting thoroughly, with players and parents in the room. I related to my years of coaching and the success, or lack thereof, and stressed that this is just a game and that the players will remember the friendships made or experiences along the way, not the score at the end of the day. I encourage players to be creative and remind them that the game is read and react not all straightforward X's and O's. If they aren't making mistakes, they are not trying hard enough. Learn from your mistakes and try not to repeat them.

The coaching staff have stressed that when a coach approaches a player after a shift with the white board and marker it's not a negative thing, it is a learning opportunity. When we showed them examples with x's and o's it confused every player, which showed that we had to start at an earlier stage then progress to more complex concepts. White board talks are one method of helping us achieve the progression in team play, they are not to be feared. I've been on teams where staff have the players so scared to make a mistake that they play reserved or are afraid to go on the ice. The players should look forward to coming to the rink to play this wonderful game and see their friends, not to get stomach aches if a bad play is made.

Don't get me wrong, everyone enjoys winning and you will remember a big title years after you move on from minor hockey but at what sacrifice. Staying positive, with hard work and dedication can lead to success, you don't need to make it dreadful. I strive to achieve that every player is better on and off the ice at the end of the year than when they stepped on the ice at tryouts. My goal is to have every player develop their skills throughout the year and that they can't wait to sign up for next season.

You brought in some older players to help volunteer assist with this team. What was the idea behind that and how has it gone so far?

The game of hockey is always changing and evolving, having younger staff can bring new ideas to someone like myself who has been behind the bench for 20+ years. I find that players can relate to former players as they bring a fresh outlook to the game. It has been good so far, one player we brought in had been one of my previous captains and the other has played at higher level junior and NCAA hockey.

They have natural leadership skills making so the transition from player to staff is seamless. Balancing school and new career opportunities leave it difficult for them to attend every team session but I knew that going in and still encourage them to make everything they can. I have a great parent group and some of them have the coaching credentials which never leaves my coaching staff shorthanded on or off the ice.

How do you bring a team together during the early part of a season? What are some team building ideas you’ve implemented?

It starts with my coaching staff; we all get along and share very similar opinions on the team. When there is great cohesion on your staff, it trickles down to the players. Staying positive with your teammates is huge. I've asked the team if any individual player wants to make a mistake and if so put up their hand. Nobody raises their hand so we remind the players that nobody intentionally makes a bad pass or play. Coming off the ice and yelling or making your teammate feel bad doesn't help and could make them more anxious about going out for their next shift. Positive encouragement goes a long way and avoids unnecessary rifts on the team.

When players haven't played with each other, keeping things positive helps boost players’ confidence up and helps with their comfort levels so they are more likely to talk to someone new as opposed to shying away because someone ripped their last shift apart. We have booked an out-of-town tournament early as they are great for team bonding with team dinners, mini sticks etc. Off ice workouts are being performed as a team once every other week.

As the season moves along, I want to continue what the previous coach implemented last year with the team collecting warm clothing for a local community care program. They contacted the opposing team on certain home nights and did "warm hat tosses" etc. where the players would pick them off the ice and then get together to help package them with the program co-ordinator. It's not my original idea but I loved how it brought the players together and made them look at life a little differently.


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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