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A Guest Hockey Post From Japan

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Beyond the Players’ Ears

A Guest post by David Elmes
– National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Kanoya, Japan
– Foreign Exchange and Language Education Center

This summer, as part of my continued research on coach-player communications, I attended the Junior Prep Hockey Camp in Port Alberni, British Columbia, Canada. As per advertised, the Junior Prep Camp offered the opportunity for elite players to train with elite instructors and invited first rate coaches to support in this aim. At the Elite Male Camp, I was introduced to several coaches, including the camp’s “High Profile Coach” Spiros Anastas, an assistant coach for Western Michigan University of the NCAA, and Glen Williamson, a former NHL coach and, among other claims to fame, head coach of the 2001-2 Japanese Men’s National Ice Hockey Team.

Spiros Anastas and Nate Leslie

On ice, the coaches were fantastic, sharing with the players an excellent blend of drills, experience and expertise. However, it was actually off ice that I inadvertently found the most value. When I was graciously granted permission by Nate Leslie – one of the camp’s owners and instructors – to attend the camp, I had no idea of the opportunities that would arise from the nightly chats amongst the coaches. Sadly, the players will probably never hear most of what was said, as I could rate the insights shared as nothing less than invaluable.

In my talks with Glen Williamson I learned the most. From within his many stories, I learned that professional coaches and scouts demand as much of themselves as they do their players –constantly working to better themselves as coaches and as people. I learned that as professionals they are not disillusioned by hopes that each player will recognize the ultimate value of everything that is taught in camp, but are instead committed to their goal of giving something of value to take away. I also learned something that I truly believe all athletes should never forget; they are always being observed.

In one of the long nightly chats between the camp instructors, one phrase could be heard time and again, “… and he’s a good kid.” There were no final evaluations being conducted in the room, but as coaches shared in their observations of the various skill sets that players possessed, they also often made note of their character. For me, this phrase represented the professionalism of both the camp and the coaches, as in consciously observing each player’s total worth, they were able to find value in more than just skill – an invaluable lesson for any athlete.

David Elmes
To contact David: ディビットエルメス: elmesd@nifs-k.ac.jp

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