UNH hockey is 18-8-6. My freshman year I didn’t pass micro-economics. I’ve screwed up video for hockey, a handful and foot-full of times. I have a humongous forehead and cow lick. I miss a class here and there. I don’t know how to say no. I can’t cook. I fear snakes and large spiders. Sometimes what I say, I don’t mean. I have flaws therefore I’m not perfect. I’m not perfect, therefore I’m human. I’m human therefore I’m genuine.
Yet all of these things, I let get the best of me. I’m as much of a competitor who loves winning as much as the next guy. Yet I, at times, allow losing to get the best of me. With the stresses of job applications, interviews, passing the last semester and the end of a hockey season here there is no better time than the present to go back to the philosophy that I am so well acquainted with. The philosophy that I’ve grown up to respect and exercise. This blog post, offers another perspective to an article that was published in the Union Leader a little over a week ago about a hockey team, 7 years ago, that had over 100 wins in one season. Yet if you were to ask them what they remember most [of that season], it would be the chemistry that brewed off the ice. It was the memories had at the hotels in Canada, at a teammates house or the laughs had in the locker room that stuck with them. With this team there wasn’t one best player, there was 24 of them.
The coach of that team 7 years ago, has been my coach for the past 22 years. His philosophy is the same whether he’s preaching to his kids in a locker room or his kids in the living room. His demeanor is so consistent and trustworthy that his words, when spoken, are paid full attention too and honored in such a high respect that motivates you too fully listen and execute in hopes of never disappointing him. Every direction he gives, leads you to a path of success. Every request he makes, has a reason. Every passage he preaches, has a lesson. Every lesson he teaches, he reaches to the largest most beneficiary audience–the youth.
One of my first stints at being a hockey manager came 7 years ago, with that exact team. My father allowed me to sit in the locker room as he gave his pre/post-game speeches that inspired and impacted the young minds. They were all so incredible to listen to, because every speech was different. Every speech was from the heart. His best ideas and beliefs would be shared in the purest form of communication, through a story. His stories are shared to be enjoyed by others, to be learned from, and to be passed on to share for others to hear and become impacted. There’s been a lot moments where I’ve been proud to call Coach Myers my father, but nothing has made me prouder as a son than that moment after a speech where I’m left emotional or saying, “Damn, where did that come from?” or “Put me in Coach, I’m ready to play.”
I’ve never straight up asked my father what his coaching philosophy is, but if I did I think he would answer with something like this,
“Every player should be given an equal opportunity. An equal opportunity to participate, be praised and disciplined. In order for player growth he/she must be willing to develop a team-first mentality. We must work together in order to grow. Success is achieved through team unity which is developed through character building that is reflective both on and off the ice. For hockey is a privilege–that not everyone gets to experience. My intention is to make sure everyone I share that experience with, understands the privilege of playing the sport in a manner that is fair, respectful, and unforgettable. For every person I share the ice with has fun, and leaves the ice looking forward to the next practice or game.”
Ask my father how many wins he has and he’ll look at you dumbfounded. Ask my father how many state titles he has and he’ll say he doesn’t know. I can’t answer how many wins he has, but he has 7 State Titles. 7 State Titles that were won because everyone bought into this team-first mentality. Every day provided a new opportunity to better yourself. Punctuality, Respect, Politeness, Responsibility, Sharing, Giving, Appreciating and being humble are characteristics every player’s required to practice and implement when in the presence of the team. Passing, back-checking, blocking shots and short shifts wins him games. All of the qualities he focused on he believes will transform his team of young boys/girls into men and women. The more these characteristics are addressed and practiced, the better respect and appreciation will be had towards the team and sport. He focuses on these characteristics because of the benefits these kids will experience off the ice, outside of the rink and in a job interview or classroom. He stressed that there is more to life than hockey and winning.
You love what you do the moment this energetic-happiness fulfills your heart and nothing else seems to matter in that moment. A feeling from within makes you feel complete. For 1 hour a day, nothing else in his life matters but the players who he shares the ice with. It’s these bonds that make it easy to come to the rink every day. It’s these life long friendships that makes him feel complete. It’s those unexpected moments for a coach when he/she is reminded that all of their time and effort given “is all worth it,” that make coaching so special. His calling is coaching the youth. He was meant to mold young minds, while the clay is still moist. He positions every one of his players with an opportunity to succeed–both on and off the ice. Those who are the happiest, are those who do the most for others.
This Saturday is senior night for UNH hockey. I haven’t talked to my father about it yet, but there’s a good reason why. My father’s team, Bedford HS, just won their semi-final game tonight. The championship game is to be played this Saturday at 2. The UNH game is at 4. Dad there is nothing in this world that would make me prouder than you finishing what you’ve worked so hard for, winning that State title on Saturday for the kids. You’ve been there for me every time I’ve needed you. I promise you that I don’t need you Saturday, your team needs you. I have been blessed to have you as my coach for the past 22 years and am excited to have you as my coach for the next 22 years. On Saturday you will have a team that is depending on your guidance. A team that has put so much faith and trust in you they would feel lost without you there.
Don’t worry about me, Coach. I don’t need any acknowledgement, for I have received plenty of appreciation over the past four years from you, my teammates and coaches that I’ve always offered respect to. I don’t need a send off because I’m not done with hockey yet. You’ve shown me that dreams are not what you see when you sleep, they are the things that keep you from sleeping. I’ve shown you multiple times that I don’t wait for an opportunity, I create them. This chapter still has empty pages that I plan on filling.
You’ve taught me to be there for the boys. To be there for your team, no matter how big or small your impact is.
Saturday lets both finish what we’ve started. Saturday is your time, Saturday is my time, Saturday is our time.
No matter the distance, I’ll know in my heart that you are putting a smile on someone else’s face the same way you can put a smile on mine.