Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sudden Changes

Just yesterday I found that I only have one more camp to go for the summer. I was supposed to have 6 (including this week) at the start of the summer. Now, due to low enrolment at 5 of the next 6 camps, my summer work ends after only what will be 4 weeks of work. I have officially lost 3/5 of my summer salary. Major bummer... especially since most of my earnings was to be put towards my security deposit and first months rent for the apartment I will be leasing for graduate school. So if anyone needs labor until September, my schedule is basically wide open.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Bridgewater Day 3

Wednesday means that it is the third day of this weeks camp, so here I am on day 3 wondering what happened to my good group of students. They have been excellent this week, they have been kids, so a little wild, but today it was at a new level. It must have been because they were tired and their muscles were sore, but they were very irritable with each other and more out of control than they have been for the past couple days. Normally, just asking them to calm down or to be quiet works fairly well, but today it did not. We pushed through lunch and then the video session with moderate ease after a great time on the ice.

After lunch, though, we go outside for dry land training. They were a little whiny after we went for a warm up run and began to stretch. Many were complaining about the heat and the humidity which I can't completely blame them for; it was terribly hot and humid, but they were starting to push and get unruly. A few quick exercises after stretching calmed them down a bit but then the complaining started soon again... "my legs hurt", "I'm tired", "I want to stay in the shade," so on and so forth. Now it may sound cruel to keep them in the sun, but I always make sure to give them plenty of water breaks and unfortunately there is only one tree which amounts to very little shade on the grass and I'm certainly not having them do their exercises in the parking lot on the hot black top. They finally got through it all and were up for playing a game for the last 45 minutes which is typical of the camp - work for a half hour then play a game for however much time remains.

Lately, we've been playing blocker baseball, a form of baseball which instead of a bat you use a goalie blocker and in place of a hard ball a tennis ball is used. Today, though, the kids brought a whiffle ball and bat which they all wanted to do, but once the game got under way a few decided they were going to sit down and not play simply because their team wasn't winning so they were making excuses, "I'm bored," etc. I said we'd play capture the flag if they played 5 more minutes of whiffle ball... but one of them wouldn't relent. He was adiment that he was done playing and was going to whine about the game for the rest of the time. Well, kids may be able to get what they want at home by whining and complaining and acting stubborn, but this is not their house and I'm not their parent or babysitter. Instead, they ran until everyone was giving a solid effort in the running drills... actually, all gave a great effort except the one stubborn one, he slacked on the first running drill... but once he realized that we were going to run until he gave an effort, he decided to care more on the second and longer drill. I have found that some kids, despite their constant stubborness and complaining, respond the best to authority, especially when the other kids are punished for something they didn't do; that's how a team works and the kids at this camp are a team and will act like a team. Every camp so far has had the kids that disrespect eitehr myself of another coach and expect to get away with it... but they don't and it's rather interesting to watch the transformation that occurs during the week, most of them correct their behavior, if just for the rest of the week. Whether it be the pressure of not letting down their teamates or a realization that they can't treat their coach like their parents, I'm not sure, but either way, they learn respect for their coach - and I truly hope for their parents, but I'm not so sure of that.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bridgewater, MA

Yes, you read that correctly, and no, I didn't accidentally put MA instead of NJ. This week I'm in Bridgewater again, but this time I'm visiting Massachusetts. I must say that so far I haven't seen much of either Bridgewater or Middleborough (where my hotel is located) but I can say that I have enjoyed traveling around the area much more than I did NJ; I can actually turn left and get onto a road in the right direction with ease! There also isn't a ton of traffic, well, comparitively to NJ. I'm thinking that NJ should take notes from MA on how to keep traffic moving without comprimising the ability to turn and get to the other side of the road.

The camp is an odd one, I have 10 skaters and 2 goalies... 2 goalies! Luckily, I have an instructor who attends UMass Boston (NCAA DIII) to coach the skaters. I'm confident that I know the skills skaters need and the details that need to be focused on, but it would be tremendously difficult to teach both players and goalies at the same time. As a result, I only have to instruct the goalies. It would seem that 2 goalies would be a piece of cake and that there would be no difficulties, but I must say that can't be further from the truth. The difficulty lies in the ability level of each goalie. I have one 14 year old kid who is entering into high school and is enrolled in the Elite program which is designed to be fast paced and less focused on fundamentals with more of an emphasis on details and the explosive nature of the position. On the other hand, I have an 8 year old girl who is just beginning. Enrolled in the regular program this is her first exposure to formal training.

Thus far, I have made it work fairly well, but I'm a little upset that my two original shooters decided not to show up on Monday, leaving me without a shooter for about a half hour. Thankfully the local coordinator found another kid to fill in. Unfortuantely, this is all I have now, one shooter. This makes teaching both goalies increasingly difficult since I have to shoot as well as teach and oversee operations. I have found that I can snipe with a goalie stick, though. I knew I had a good shot and fairly accurate, but I believe both my power and my accuracy has increased while working these camps, soley because I have to shoot in many different scenarios. I guess teaching is still the best way to improve, along with practice.

I do have all 12 kids for dry land training where I've been putting them through some pretty tough drills, reducing the number of sets for plyometrics, which they have reacted positively to. Most young kids don't want to work hard at dry land and just want to goof around, but these kids were excited today, when they woke up with sore muscles... in fact, the parents were excited! That to me says they were working and want to get better, even if they do goof off at times, they still put in the effort that they need to in order to get better. The past couple of weeks I have been participating in dry land training as well, working out with the kids (mostly to show that I'm not just making them do it and that I can and will do it). One of the perks of the job, I suppose; I get to work out as well as coach... I'm not going to argue with getting into shape! I've also worked up a nice tan the past few weeks. It started in VT and I've seemed to be able to keep it up; one of the first times in my life I've been tan! Normally, I burn... instant lobster.

Monday, July 14, 2008

NJ Wrap-Up

Finally, I made it out of NJ in one piece, unscathed... though I think some people wanted to kill me for doing 60mph in a 55 zone; how dare I!? I really do feel that NJ is just a terrible state, I didn't like it at all. Life there is too fast, people are in too much of a hurry to get nowhere. I am quite content coming back to a great family in a house nestled in the woods with peace and quite and FRESH AIR! The weather in Jersey was nice - we had sun every day, at least through dry land training, which is all I can ask for. But, the humidity was atrocious! I really think there was about 500% humidity... whether that was natural or smog related (I'm leaning towards smog) is beyond me, but the humidity sucked big time.

The camp itself was great. As it was my first time as a head instructor I was on my own and was feeling the pressure. I not only had kids who were just beginning or who needed work mostly on their fundamentals, but I had elite goaltenders who were looking to attend prep showcase tournaments. I wasn't sure how that was going to work out, I know the game and know the details they need to know, but kids in that position need a lot of attention and a lot of quality shots. I think I accomplished this, the kid was quite pleased with what he learned and the practice that he received. More than just him, though, the other kids loved it and were excited about the material that they learned. There are always a kid or two that doesn't like you, mainly because you're a tough coach, you demand hard work, so they don't like you... and I had a couple of them. For the most part, though, they were satisfied, and they had a lot of fun, I really couldn't ask for much more than that - after all, it is just a sport, it's meant to be fun.

The parents were also satisfied, which is one of the greatest compliments I could have received. The kids see a lot behind the scenes and are listening to what you have to say, so they know if you're a good coach or not, but the parents are basing it on off ice relations, what their kid reports, and how the on ice session is run. I had a few parents tell me it was the best camp by this program they've seen yet (and most of the kids had been there before or they had a sibling there before). That tells me I'm doing my job and I'm doing it well. I must say that working with 18 goalies is a lot easier than working with 18 players and goalies. I have more freedom and can tailor the drills to the goaltenders and not have to worry about a fusion session where both the players and goalies are doing drills together. I have to say, by someone saying that, it not only tells me I'm doing my job well, but doing better than previous coaches - in their mind. If I an have a few more performances like that, I'll be ecstatic.

No pictures from Jersey... it was ugly.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Bridgewater, NJ

So here I sit, at a Days Inn, in a shitty state. I'm not going to lie... New Jersey is a shit hole, well, at least central NJ. I did get a chance to view Western NJ thanks to Google. Their wonderful directions led me exactly where I didn't need to go, in fact, I was on the other side of the state. This wouldn't be the first time Google Maps has failed me. In fact, just last week in Vermont Google led me to the other side of Manchester in search of the hotel... exactly where we didn't need to go. As you can imagine, I have elected to not use Google Maps for directions anymore.

Once I found Bridgewater, which only took an extra hour (thanks Google!) I came across the worst road in US history. Route 22, a main road cutting through Bridgewater and most the rest of New Jersey has very strict rules... no turning left... ever! To get to the other side, you need to find a U-turn area. This wouldn't be too bad... except that the rink I go to is on the other side of Route 22 than me which means I have to go 4 miles out of my way (one direction) to get almost directly across the street. Great idea NJ, keep traffic moving and force people to use more gas, fantastic! And since there are only maybe three traffic lights on the entire road... it's packed and turning onto the road takes forever. It might be alright if Rt. 22 was the only road like this, but it turns out that most every major road follows these rules... some don't even let you turn right at a light... you have to exit the highway at a designated area where it takes you to the crossroad at which point you can choose your direction. Sounds like a great idea in theory... but in practice... it sucks, it sucks horribly. I hate driving in NJ. The road system is not aided by NJ driving either. NJ drivers are some of the worst. I knew this before coming here, but it has been reenforced.

Dear NJ - You Suck.

Vermont Wrap-Up

Directly above is a picture from our hotel room's back door. In the rear you will see the tennis court where the Canadian swept the tennis match, 3 sets to none. I did my country no justice and couldn't even win one set! Anyway, I have also supplied a picture or two of the hotel lobby, which was very rustic (aside from the baby toys - Sal has three daughters) and quite relaxing - until all the horse people showed up on Thursday night. They were loud and filled the rest of the hotel. We had peace and quiet nestled in the woods... but those damn horse people... apparently a horse show equals lots of drinking and major partying. Who knew!? Other than that, Sal, the owner, was great, as was Tom (his father-in-law) and Jake (Tom's 2 year old Golden Retriever) who always had at least two tennis balls in his mouth.

To sum up the camp, it went great. The kids started to finally get into the whole "learning" and "improving" aspect instead of the "I'm a tough guy/comedian" act. Once they started to put a little effort in things went more smoothly and they got a lot more out of it, of course. The first few days was a little more rough then I led on. They were wild and out of control. They lacked respect and discipline, but my colleague and I whipped them into shape.

There isn't much more to say about the camp, my colleague helped get me ready for what I am up against this week, being the head instructor at a camp, but luckily, this one would have only goalies - no players.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Canada - 2 : NH - 0

Damn Canadian got me again. He went up 3 games to 1 rather quickly, but I turned it around and came back to take the lead 5 games to 3... yet still, he won out, turning up the heat and taking the set 7 games to 5. This is why I'm not a tennis player. He says he's not that good and rarely plays, but I tell ya, he has a powerful shot that is accurate and his serve has a massive curve. We'll see, maybe he'll be up for a couple more sets before we leave on Friday night. I need to show I'm not so much of an embarrassment for my country! Oh yeah, he did have today on his side though - it's Canada Day in Canada, I'm convinced this had something to do with it.