For esteemed hockey coach and instructor Don McKee, continuing coaching education is critically important. As an instructor at the 2017-2018 NOHA Development Weekend, he will be sharing his wealth of knowledge and skills with a group of Northern Ontario coaches and players.
A school teacher, McKee found harmony early in his coaching career, bringing his skills from the classroom to the hockey rink, and with great success, coaching at university and national levels, including a championship for Canada at the Spengler Cup in Switzerland in 1997.
The NOHA Development Weekend is a place for coaches to learn and flourish. “The game evolves continually, so going through the Instructional Programs we have helps develop their skills as a coach, and is a priority to understand the players in the north and their abilities and the challenges they will face,” McKee says, explaining that coaches need the ability to know what their players need to work on now, and which foundations to build for skills learned later.
“In 30 years of education, we always said the best teachers should be at the kindergarten and grade 1-2 levels, and I would say in hockey it’s very important that our people are great teachers, because they need to make sure they retain players, and if they love coming in every week, they’re going to pass that foundation on.”
Northern Ontario is fortunate to have a number of high-quality coaches throughout the area, all having been involved in continuing coaching education. But being the best coach possible doesn’t lie solely in furthering education.
“Being a great communicator, a positive leader, an efficient teacher, a strong motivator, and having the technical knowledge to teach skills, all these make for a good coach.” These are the five qualities McKee highlights, and stresses learning from other coaches as an important opportunity. Having and sharing leadership and teaching skills benefits all coaches, and every coach should be looking to get better every day in their role.
Events like this are defining, and McKee hopes the coaches participating in NOHA’s Development Weekend will walk away holding the lessons they learn as important benchmarks in developing their own skills and, in turn, further developing the skills of the players they teach and inspire.
McKee cites his passion as an inheritance from an involved hockey family, and leaves his legacy with everyone he teaches. One of his paramount hockey moments was his team winning the Spengler Cup in Switzerland in 1997. “I wish my mother and father were there to see that. I dedicate that experience to them,” he says.
The NOHA 2017-2018 Development Weekend kicks off Friday, August 10th through August 12th. The brightest players, coaches, and officials will be present to learn new skills, forge new bonds, and further develop the face of hockey in Northern Ontario.