USA Hockey Magazine

March 2017

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By Doug Abrams 32 // MARCH 2017 USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM N o t l o n g a g o , I w a s s t a n d i n g i n a restaurant lobby when a g entleman a p p r o a c h e d m e a n d a s k e d , " Yo u'r e Doug, aren't you?" I said yes, and he a s k e d w h et h e r I r e m e m b e r e d h i m . "I probably do," I said, " but I don't recognize you. You'll have to help me." I suspected that he was one of my for- mer youth hockey players, but I didn't know which one. Years after a team's last game, inability to recognize a player's face the next time comes with the youth coach's territory. No wonder I didn't recognize the gentleman. I coached him in the early 1990s, when he was 16. Now he is 42, married with children of his own. After some storytelling, he knew that I indeed remember him. But equally gratifying was that he remembered me. Faces change but images remain frozen in time. Chance Encounters Reunions like this demonstrate one reason why youth and high school coaches should think twice before letting short-term frustrations lead them to depart of their own accord while they still have more to offer. Coaching sometimes brings short-term frustrations that stem from challenges largely unknown years ago. These challenges lead many youth coaches to serve only while their own sons or daughters participate, and they lead many high school coaches to hang up their whistles before their time. Particularly at the high school level, men and women with coaching tenures spanning decades rather than months or years seem a disappearing breed. Whether to leave youth coaching is, of course, an individual decision for coaches and their families. But when a coach is considering whether to leave seeks my advice, I suggest considering not only the short-term highs and lows, but also the long-term rewards that continued service might hold. One of the great long-term rewards—and this column's subject—is that players don't forget their devoted youth coaches. If a coach treats the team right, A Coach's Impact Remains Long After The Game Ends Remember PLAYERS

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