USA Hockey Magazine

April / May 2019

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Page 13 of 55

WE ALL WANT to give our kids the world, and expose them to all the world has to offer. Especially at an early age. For our son, Joe, that meant football, baseball, basketball, lacrosse, karate, Boy Scouts and even the clarinet. You name it, he tried it. Still, we found there were plenty of nights we were dragging him to practices or fighting some "mysteri- ous illness" to avoid commitments. Then he found hockey. At 8 years old, he pulled a 180, rushing us out the door, ecstatic to hit the ice for every practice. But there was one minor prob- lem: kids were skating literal circles around Joe. As relative newcomers to the sport, we didn't realize just how much catch-up he had to do, hav- ing not discovered his hockey pas- sion until the ripe, old age of 8. So, I reached back to my own skating roots and put him in touch with a figure skating coach. Now I know the figure skating vs. hockey feud may precede even the Hatfields vs. the McCoys, but hear me out. Joe's edges got deeper, his turns quicker, and by midseason, he not only caught up, but there were times his coach had Joe demon- strating the edge technique he had quickly mastered. That extra bit of guidance and hard work paid off. Minneapolis hockey dad Michael Farnam can relate, having also dis- covered the value in having a skills coach work with his son. "It's hard to believe that a teen- ager would get up early for this, but the coach really works them hard, matching them up against similar ages and skill levels," said Farnam, w h o f o u n d t h e c o a c h t h r o u g h another parent who was looking for some extra skill work. "I guess it's his ability to get the kids to work really hard, but also making sure they have fun." B u t b e f o r e y o u p u l l a m u s c l e reaching for your checkbook to hire a private coach, there are some things to keep in mind. Charlie Giltz, a 35-year coach- ing veteran from Skaneateles, N.Y., cautions parents to find a balance if you go the private lesson route. And rather than focus on age, Giltz said it's important to consider maturity, physical development and the level of commitment. The focal point of private sessions should be based on building block principle: skating, puck skills and game development. And most of all, it should be enjoy- able for the athlete. Parents need to do their home- work before hiring; ask for refer- ences and maybe watch a lesson before you commit. "Kids smiling and having fun may be the best test," Giltz says. Ken Martel, the technical direc- tor of USA Hockey 's American Development Model, also believes k i d s l e a r n m o r e i n t u i t i v e l y through trial and error and asks us to think back to the time we learned how to ride a bike. "Did your parents hire a bicy- cle riding specialist to teach you?" Martel asks. "My guess is that you jumped on the bike, fell, got back on and slowly acquired the ability to ride." After my son got the basics down, we saw him kick it up a couple of notches on his own. It meant a lot of hours in the driveway, shooting on the net. Fortunately for him, he had a little sister who loved atten- tion—and hockey—not minding at all when big brother would stick her in net and take aim as he worked to perfect his wrister. Suffice to say, we saved some money with her first skills coach. P 12 // APRIL/MAY 2019 USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM ILLUSTRATION BY Darren Gygi BEH I N D T HE G L A SS The focal point of private sessions should be based on building block principle; skating, puck skills and game development. BRUCE WOLANIN Age: 50 Pomfret, Conn. Bruce Wolanin has made an impact on the hockey scene in Connecticut as a player, collegiate coach, and now as a youth hockey coach and associate coach-in-chief. Originally from Winnipeg, Man., Wolanin came to the Constitution State to play for Pomfret prep, before skating at Yale University for four years. Legendary coach Tim Taylor asked Wolanin to join his staff with the Bulldogs in 1995, where he spent the next eight years coaching at his alma mater. The current director of college counseling at Pomfret, where he also coached for nine years, Wolanin currently spends about 20 hours a week at the rink. "What keeps me coming back is the kids having fun," said Wolanin, who also coaches the Griffin Youth Hockey's 12 & Under team. "We are spreading the gospel of USA Hockey and getting kids to love the sport," he said. "For me, it's really just the satisfaction of seeing kids love the game and improve." THE HOCKEY MOM By Christie Casciano Burns Private Coaches One Piece Of The Development Puzzle COACH OF THE MONTH

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