There is a lot of truth in the saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
To have success as a coach at any level of hockey, you do need to know a thing or two about the game. Fair enough. But how often are people promoted within the coaching ranks because of who they previously played for, coached with, or because a coaching acquaintance gave them a strong recommendation?
It happens all the time.
The hockey world is a small world and the same goes for the coaching fraternity. The tightness of the community is what makes hockey truly unique, and also what makes coaching conferences truly valuable.
When Aaron Wilbur, Founder & CEO of The Coaches Site, hosted his first coaching conference in 2011 in Vancouver, he admittedly had no idea what he was doing. He saw an opportunity to bring coaches together, to learn from one-another, to share ideas and concepts, and simply bond with others who share the same passion for a very thankless, very stressful job. Nearly 100 coaches showed up to that first conference and, building on its success, over 200 coaches attended the following year.
The hockey coaching world is now more connected than ever thanks to Wilbur, who has hosted 10 conferences since 2011, including two in 2016.
Networking is everything.
“You can draw a direct line for some coaches to a conference we’ve put on and the next coaching opportunity they got,” said Wilbur. “It’s all about networking. It’s not a mistake, networking is a learned skill, it’s intentional and it happens every single day. The best coaches recognize that coaching is about relationships.”
Ben Cooper can attest to this. The current assistant coach of EC Salzburg of the ICE Hockey League, whose previous experience includes National Teams Video Coach with Hockey Canada, was looking to get back into video coaching after a stint coaching with the Okanagan Hockey Academy. He spoke at the coach’s conference in 2014 and was later introduced to Glen Gulutzan, then Vancouver Canucks assistant coach, who said the team was looking to fill a video coach vacancy.
You’ll never guess who got the job.
Cooper (top left, alongside Wilbur, right) worked three seasons with the Canucks, and two with the Florida Panthers, before being named head coach of the Herning Blue Fox in the Danish Metal Ligaen, a position he held for two years.
Networking is everything.
“These conferences aren’t just about the knowledge gained from presenters on stage,” explained Wilbur. “A huge part of this is the people they are sitting beside and are meeting throughout the conference, who become friends, and they stay in touch and help each other through tough coaching times.
“That’s what’s unique about this community: on the one hand it’s hyper-competitive and you have all these people that want to win and want to be the best, but at the same time, they’re willing to get together and share ideas because they’re so passionate about being the best versions of themselves. Even if that means collaborating with the person they’re going to be facing off against in their next game.”
This year Wilbur and team will celebrate their 10th anniversary of coaching conferences, albeit a bit late. Covid wiped out the 2020 conference, before it was revived as a fully virtual event in 2021. It simply wasn’t the same.
This year, from June 15-17, The Coaches Site Live returns with an in-person conference in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan. Attending this three-day coaching masterclass not only grants you access to learn from such renowned coaches as Dave King, Mike Babcock and Dave Barr (30+ presenters in total!), but also networking opportunities with coaching leaders of the hockey world.
That’s what The Coaches Site is all about: bringing together passionate, like minded people who can all help each other raise their level of coaching and become better leaders.
“This was the goal when The Coaches Site was formed,” said Wilbur. “To create an unbiased platform where ideas around coaching, tactics and player development could be exchanged and debated. We wanted coaches to have access to the best information out there, regardless of where that information came from.
“Returning to in-person conferences is a return to meeting face-to-face, shaking hands, sharing information and growing as a community. We couldn’t be more excited for this year’s event. Bringing everyone back together is going to be really special.”
HOCKEY’S PREMIERE COACHING CONFERENCE
June 15-17 | Ann Arbor, Michigan
TCS Live is about sharing ideas and connecting with leaders in our sport. Learn unique perspectives on how other clubs, leagues and federations are building their programs and pushing the game forward.
Join us and hundreds of like-minded coaches this June for a 3 day masterclass in coaching.
Early Bird Sale ends soon. Don’t miss out on the lowest price on TCS Live tickets!
REGISTER FOR TCS LIVE TODAY!
We are sorry this post was not useful for you...
Tell us how we can improve this post?