It’s 7 am and the sun won’t rise for a couple hours. The windows are frosty while the truck warms up and you shovel the driveway so your partner doesn’t have to later on (even though the snow is coming down steadily and they’ll have to anyways). You’ve got to get to the rink, open up the room, and start the coffee.
But after that?
Everything that comes at you — players who want to ask questions about the power play, billet parents wondering what the curfew rules are, the challenge of cutting down your goals against — everything that comes once you’re at the rink, that’s the easy part.
The hard part is over. The hard part is getting started.
Gardiner MacDougall is one of the most successful coaches in the history of Canadian University Hockey. He’s guided the University of New Brunswick’s Varsity Reds to an unprecedented number of championships in the past two decades. But he didn’t start on that stage; coach Mac spent time with the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s OCN Blizzard, a small-town junior hockey program in northern Manitoba that faces its fair share of challenges.
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But while the start to his coaching career might have been tough, if you know Gardiner, you know he wouldn’t change it for the world.
Coach Mac gave one of the most inspiring, uplifting, and motivational presentations in the history of our Coaches Conferences last summer in Toronto. What makes it even more impressive is that he probably did the whole thing without a script. The 60-year-old PEI native captivated and jolted to life the audience at 8 am like few other coaches could. It was the start of a long day, but it was the start we needed.
That’s often all it takes — just getting started.
- “Consistency is the mother of excellence.”
- “The number one skill you can teach your players is competitive work ethic.”
- “Your team will never get ahead of where your best player is at. Your best players set the tone for work ethic, passion, and dedication.”
- “Our practice in Lethbridge before playing the national championships this past spring was our best practice of the year.”
- “The number one difference between good and great is grit.”
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