What constitutes success?

It has been said many times that a successful coach needs a dog who loves him/her, a supportive spouse, and a great goaltender. I am a commercial fisherman. I am a production oriented, results driven person. If can look down in my fish hold, and if it is full of fish I am probably having a good day. What constitutes success is not so simple with our women’s adult team.

Success is improving every day.

Are we better at the end of the season than we were when we began? The Divas have won many tournaments and played in the championship games in many tournaments. We have moved teams up divisions and even with new challenges, we have been successful. But I have never heard a Diva equate success with wins despite their competitive spirits. They are there to have fun. They want to win the party. And they love The Team.

Success is when many people are giving their time and talent and want to be part your program.

The Divas are mature, creative, talented women. They are leaders in our community. They have a lot going on. We all get together through playing hockey. Many of them tell you that they may have never met other Divas even in a small town if it weren’t for their love for hockey. They become friends through hockey, and they have done a good job of not letting the locker room get poisonous. They just don’t let it happen and if someone needs to gripe or complain or badmouth another player they simply won’t support it.

Success is being able to help others.

If I can help someone who loves the game, who will help someone who loves the game, who will help someone to love the game, then we are getting somewhere. That’s success to me. Shelly and some of the other Divas teach every Sunday afternoon a group of 4-6 year olds at our learn to skate through hockey program called the “MicroBells”. One day she came home all excited about one of her skaters. He was new, but he was skating rings around everyone and was a little hellion. His grandmother brought him to practices, and she wasn’t sure about his family situation. She and I had talked many times about how there were kids who needed hockey – not just kids who were dragged to the rink by their parents. This kid was edgy and barely controllable, but he was loving what he was doing on the ice. We figured out a way to offer a scholarship for his ice fees. After a few months Shelly told him, “You know someday you are going to be a good hockey player.” To which he returned “No, I AM a hockey player!” I think that statement resonates with the Divas as well.

Success is learning new skills.

When I show a skill or a concept in practice and then immediately see players using it the next scrimmage. That is success. I don’t see this as often with my high school team as with the Divas. Learning skills becomes an accomplishment in itself. The Divas are supportive of each other. Time after time I’ve seen where we work on a new concept or skill in practice and then we scrimmage. Someone utilizes that skill in a game situation, and then both benches will erupt with cheers. The Divas are acknowledging the skill or even the attempt. It may not have resulted in a goal. But what is happening is the Divas are saying to themselves that we get this, we can do this. And they are supporting each other. That was a beautiful cycle, an awesome high delay, a great play from behind the net.

Success is sparking drive.

I feel successful as a coach when I happen to be at stick time and I see a new Diva practicing her shot against the wall – getting some quality reps to increase her skill level. Like Kevin Bell with young kids before me, when you see a little spark of  interest, and then you see someone willing to work at it a little on her own, you might just have a new hockey player who will have fun with the sport.