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Get to Know December's Coach of the Month

By The Coaches Site, 12/11/23, 1:15PM EST


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, Jon Forbes of the Erin-Hillsburgh U13 B team was selected as the Coach of the Month for December.

Know someone who should be Coach of the Month? Click here to nominate them.

Here's his story as told by his nomination:

Besides his uplifting notes, after game player by player one on one positive highlights, and communication with parents that is more than expected, Jon had made such an impact on my son and the team. Jon has built a program on progression and every practice the boys build on what they’ve learned. He reviews each piece and if confusion, demonstrates himself and skates side by side with the boys until they’re comfortable. Even with two tough losses to start the year, he continues to keep the spirits up and their drive to get better every time they are on the ice. He encourages our boys to have fun and be good humans off the ice and on promoting team unity, sportsmanship and pride with his kind words and speeches. I witnessed him speaking to the opposing team member congratulating them on a game well played. He not only preaches but practices too.

Off the ice, he and a handful of parents have put together a food drive, coined “food is our goal” for local charities. As a team, we are aiming to deliver meals to families in need across the township. He is involved, engaging, uplifting and deserves to be recognized for how amazing he is as a volunteer coach for our sons. I’ve never seen my own son look up to a new coach so quickly and I’m proud and lucky to have him in our lives.

Coach Jon grew up playing minor hockey in London and ended up playing Jr. B for the London Nationals. His minor hockey coaches like Bob Stark and Bob Kingshott helped instill a love of the game in him and inspired him to coach when he got older. Jon started coaching hockey with the girls team at the high school he works at 20 years ago and still coaches the group to this day. He got involved in minor hockey to support his own kids when they first started playing, helping on ice in CHIPS and now with his son's Rep team for the past 5 years.

You’re an active participant with your players during practice. How have you found this teaching method to be effective?

I'm an active participant during practice because I'm enthusiastic about the game and want to share my enthusiasm. It's also good for the players to see a skill or system, have it broken down, and have it explained why it's important. In practice, the players are encouraged to work hard and take risks. To work outside of their comfort zone and push themselves. If they see me doing this, hopefully, they'll be motivated to do the same. I've taken a few wipeouts on the ice when participating but, hopefully, the players see that that's ok because I'm trying my best! Overall though, the players are encouraged to have fun. We talk every practice and game about working hard and having fun. Hockey is a game, it's meant to be fun.

What is the Food is Our Goal program your team participated in and what was the response from the players?

We play for a small association which is community driven and really supportive. There is a fantastic executive and the community spirit of the families in the association is second to none. We run our team by committee and all families are involved in some respect from my awesome manager Kristen Livingston to parents running fundraising and social media. I also have a really great group of parents that help run the bench as coaches and trainers. That's the lesson that we try to teach the players on the team. Involvement. They play for Erin-Hillsburgh but they also represent Erin-Hillsburgh in everything that they do. For example, parents, led by Jen Harris, came up with the "food is our goal" event to support our local food bank and families in need. The community was really supportive of this initiative and the kids learned a lot from it.

We also supported the Erin-Legion Poppy campaign this year making a team donation and wearing poppies on our helmets. We talked to the team about the importance of Remembrance Day and honouring the sacrifices made by Canadians in uniform throughout Canada's history. As I stated earlier, we really want to develop them as people, with an understanding of the importance of community, in addition to developing them as hockey players. Hockey is something they do but it isn't everything that they are. We encourage our players to get involved in any number of things and lead a balanced life.

What has the team been able to teach you as a coach?

Coaching the team has reminded me of the joys of the game. You may be having a bad day but you get to go to the rink and play hockey with your friends. The players also remind me constantly that it is just a game. Good or bad, you can't let it take over your life. We may lose a game but eventually, once the sting has worn off, they are still laughing and having fun in the dressing room afterwards! Lastly, they've taught me humility. Going back to falling on the ice, if you can't laugh at yourself what can you do? Don't take yourself too seriously!

After each game you share a positive message with each individual player. What is the thought process behind this?

One of our philosophies is to celebrate each success. We know that we aren't going to win every game but that isn't the only measure of success for our team. When we coach during practice and during games we sometimes focus on what the player needs to improve upon and not so much about what they've done well. Recognizing achievements big and small on a regular basis helps to build confidence and hopefully has them looking forward to coming to the rink to keep getting better and having fun.


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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