Dont Ever Be Afraid Of A Little Hard Work

Wyatt Waselenchuk playing for team U.S.A. at the 2013 Winter World   University Games, in Trentino, Italy

Wyatt Waselenchuk playing for team U.S.A. at the 2013 Winter World   University Games, in Trentino, Italy

   I have been going back and forth, contemplating what I should write as my first topic for our new blog, and I kept coming back to my philosophy as a coach and what we work on, day in and day out.  Here is a brief look into my beliefs on working with these young minds:

   My approach every single day as a young coach is simple:  Be a good mentor and role model for the athletes, instill good habits, constantly refine the fundamentals and most of all, stress the importance of HARD WORK.  This concept seems simple, yet, is incredibly hard to consistently achieve out of young athletes.

   Let me back up a few steps and give you a run down on how I got my start:

  After setting out on my own a mere two short seasons ago, having just finished my playing career, I had a coach believe in me enough to let me work with his team’s two goaltenders.  Since that time, I have now grown to see 50+ goaltenders every single week, through camps, mini clinics, 1 on 1 private training sessions or attending team practices.  There is no skill level or age requirement for whom I work with.  An 8 year old in his or her first year will get the same qualities, respect and treatment as an 18 year old junior hockey player.  Things have moved quickly, and the growth I have seen has been incredible to watch unfold.  I attribute this to two things:  My passion for coaching and HARD WORK.

   Growing up, I played 'AAA' hockey once up until midget.  I then hit just about every rung on the 'hockey ladder' coming up… I moved on to the BC Major Midget League, followed by a year of Junior 'B' in the Pacific Junior Hockey League, before graduating on to Jr 'A' hockey in both the British Columbia Junior Hockey League, and a short stint in the Saskatchewan Junior hockey League.  I then found myself playing collegiately at Minot State University, in Minot, North Dakota.  

  Believe me when I say;  I was never highly touted.  I was neither fast nor flexible.  I was never big or strong.  Heck my first year of junior hockey, I was barely 130 pounds.  All I did, and all I knew, was HARD WORK.

   I have one agenda in working with the students I am lucky enough to see every day, and that is to better them not only on the ice, but to better them as people away from it.  I strive to preach doing things the proper way and not taking any short cuts.  I teach the importance of truly working hard, not just when a coach, or mom and dad are watching, but to truly give it your all every time you set foot on that ice.  

  Battle hard for every single puck.  Never show weakness.  Never accept mediocrity.   It is the process that is just as important as the outcome, and the journey to get to where you want to be is so much sweeter when you know you have truly put in the work.

  The margin of players that make it to the highest level is a fraction of a fraction.  Not every player can make it to the National Hockey League…we all know that.  What is just as important to me, as playing at the highest level, is knowing that I helped a young athlete go on to have strong character and a relentless work ethic.  Being able to carry this on through various avenues, whether it’s school, a job or career, or even another sport, is so crucial and one that these young athletes will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

   I have a theory that I find interesting as I have seen more and more goalies.  The personality that you see out of a young goaltender off the ice is usually very much the same personality that they portray on the ice.  If he or she has a calm demeanor, and is relatively shy, they tend to be a bit more controlled, and tentative in their approach.  A goalie that is outgoing, with a more upbeat and outward personality seemingly takes more risks, is more aggressive and can be less in control.  This is what makes what I do so enjoyable.  Taking a kid that’s shy and introverted, and completely helping to build up their confidence and play with more intensity while pushing beyond their comfort zone is an example of something that a good coach can do.

   I have heard some coaches say “you can’t teach hard work”.  This is false, and what that really means is “I don’t want to put in the time or effort”.  You can teach hard work, with the right approach and if you can connect with your student.  Working with each and every different personality is both challenging, and incredibly rewarding, especially when you see progress being made, and that is why I love what I do.

  Life has a funny way of working out when you know you have done things the right way.  When you know you have put your all into something.  When you know that you have prepared to the best of your abilities, no matter what you are striving for.  So don't ever be afraid of a little hard work, you may just be surprised by how far it could take you.

Wyatt Waselenchuk is a goaltender development coach based out of Coquitlam, BC and is the owner of Accel Goaltending.