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The Coach of the Month for February Is...

By The Coaches Site, 02/28/23, 10:30AM EST


Coach of the Month presented by The Coaches Site

As part of Thank a Volunteer Week, we are excited to reveal the Coach of the Month for February! Coaches are an invaluable part of the minor hockey experience and help share a love of the game with thousands of players across the province.

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, Derek McLaughlin of the South Huron U15 C team was selected as the Coach of the Month for February.

Here's his story as told by one of his nominations:

I have coached along side Derek for nearly 10 years and I can say without any doubt that there isn't a minor hockey coach in the province that puts in more time and effort than Derek. The players on his teams and their parents know Derek as a kind, thoughtful and caring coach but they don't get to see all that he does. I on the other hand get a first hand look at that part of his dedication to his teams. Derek calls me multiple times throughout the summer with thoughts on how the coming season may pan out. He spends hours every day during the tryout process considering carefully which players are most deserving of spots on the team and carefully brings along AP players each year giving them exposure to a level of hockey they have possibly never been a part of before. He listens to podcasts, reads books, watches video and develops a written practice plan for every practice that is detailed down to the minute for each drill. Derek spreads ice time as equally as he can across our lineup and never favors any player more than he should. He is an example of what every coach should strive to be. In the end sometimes hockey is about winning and he has brought that to our team as well. I know how much he has put into his teams to help them reach those kinds of goals. I've learned so much from him over the past few years and consider myself lucky to have been a part of his bench staff. He's a great coach and a better person and he is very deserving of a little bit of recognition for all he has done.

Coach Derek grew up playing minor hockey in Mooretown and made lifelong friends and had coaches that were dedicated and made playing hockey fun. He played Junior B and C and earned a hockey scholarship to St. Lawrence University and discovered his passion for coaching after graduating. 

He's been coaching in the South Huron Minor Hockey Association for the past seven years at a variety of levels from U7 to U15.

What goes into your practice planning?

A lot of time and preparation goes into planning practices. There are a good three or four revisions before I finally feel the practice plan is set to go. But overall, planning and running practices are a key part of my role as the head coach that I really enjoy. 

Each practice I want to make sure that there’s a focus on developing the core hockey skills of skating, puck handling, passing and shooting. I want my practices to be up tempo, fast, competitive, with skill development and teaching. I want my practices to be fun and hard working. When kids are engaged in practice and having fun, the hard work takes care of itself. 

I am a very strong believer in the benefits of small area games, and putting players into game-like situations in practice. We play a variety of small area games in practices that improve a player’s ability to read, react and adapt to a given situation; improve their ability to handle a puck under pressure and confinement; and improve their skating ability, edge work and ability to escape opponents. 

What keeps you coming back every season?

Playing and coaching hockey has been a big part of my life and coaching gives me the opportunity to give back to something I’m passionate about. It’s very rewarding to see the improvement throughout the hockey season of both individual player skill and team play. I want the kids to have fun, develop their skills, and have a great minor hockey experience. 

What do you try to teach your players?

Outside of teaching the game of hockey, there are many important lessons that make a successful player and a successful team. Learning to respect the game. The officials, the coaches, your teammates, and your opponents. 

I emphasize the importance of being a great teammate. The value of being a great teammate is immeasurable to the success of the team. When players feel comfortable and supported, they play better. Being a great teammate is a very valued characteristic of a player at all levels. 

The importance of teamwork. Playing together as a team and working toward a common goal. It’s the idea that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. That each player on the team is valued and is an important part of the success of the team. 

The value of hard work and commitment. All of these are valuable lessons for hockey and for life. 


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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