Head coach Joe Curry was honoured at the 2017 Ontario Minor Hockey Association AGM this year when a player from his Norwood Hornets novice team wrote a grand prize winning essay. The topic: “My hockey coach teaches me…”
Sheldon Bolton wrote, “My hockey coaches teaches me teamwork. This means we work together and support each other. If someone is having a bad day, we pat them on the back or give them a high five… I learned from my coach that teamwork and support happens on and off the ice. Our teammates are our friends and family and we need to be there for them off the ice too.”
Curry grew up in Havelock, Ontario and played hockey through university on the Buffalo State College varsity team. Now he’s a financial advisor and a new father, but that’s all the more reason he wants to stay involved in the game he credits shaping him into the person he is today.
In this instalment of FROM BEHIND THE BENCH, Coach Joe Curry explains why it’s important to invest in minor hockey and how the skills learned when players are young help them on and off the ice.
“Getting involved and helping younger kids is just my way of giving back to the game that’s done a lot for me. I wanted to specifically work with younger kids to help them out because I think it’s important they get proper development from the time they’re young so they can enjoy the game more as they get older.
Quite often in smaller centres there’s no one who can take a coaching job with a hockey background. And what happens is sometimes there will be a parent who’s never played hockey or didn’t play a lot, and they’re great to volunteer to take on the team but it’s a learning experience as much for them as it is for the kids. So I just felt that with my background, I had something to give.
Skills on and off the ice
For me working with younger kids, it’s really about teaching them the individual skills; making sure they develop the basics so that as they move forward they won’t get really behind. By doing that all year, we saw a huge change from the start of the year to the end. And they were having a lot more fun as they started doing better.
At the end of the day, the whole point of the game is to make sure the kids are enjoying it. And they’re going to enjoy it more if they’re better at the game. It’s just more fun if they can do more things.
[The essay] focused on how we relate what we’re doing on the ice to how that’s going to help in real life. How helping your teammates—being there to support each other—is not just at the rink, it’s in real life. Your family and friends, you’re there to help them and support them any way you can. We talk about why it’s important to work hard on the ice and how that relates to working hard in school and whatever else you do away from the rink.
Paying it forward
I’ve had a lot of coaches over the years. My first coach was actually my dad and that was neat to have him and it made it fun. I have no aspirations to be a professional coach but it’s important to me that I’m involved in the game, there are so many good things that come from [it].
Coaching is inspirational to me. At the AGM for example, there are so many volunteers who are all selflessly giving back to the sport so kids have a place to play hockey and participate in the same way we did as kids. If there weren’t volunteers, it just wouldn’t happen. Not just the coaches, the board and everyone else who makes it happen.”
Curry’s efforts have paid off. As player Sheldon Bolton wrote: “The things I have learned from my coach are not hockey lessons, they are life lessons.”
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