Say it ain’t so, coach

Randy Russon
December 4, 2017

Apparently, there are minor hockey coaches out there who still don’t get it. Apparently, there are minor hockey coaches out there who are not in tune with the Canadian Mental Health Association and its Talk Today program.

For those who may need a refresher, Talk Today is one of the most comprehensive mental health education programs for amateur sports in Canada.

In co-operation with the likes of Hockey Canada and affiliates such as the Canadian Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League, Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League, the Northern Ontario Hockey Association et al, Talk Today is aimed at helping thousands of teenage players across Canada — as well as the individuals that support them — to identify and act upon any mental health-related issues.

To be sure, much of what went on in dressing rooms and behind benches in years gone by is no longer acceptable and is no longer tolerable.

In short, gone are the days of it being acceptable for coaches to berate, demean, ridicule or speak to amateur players in a manner that could affect the mental health and well being of a youngster.

While most coaches seem to be getting the message and most leagues and associations seem to be enforcing rules and regulations regarding the mental health and well being of all players, there are — sadly and unfortunately — some who still don’t get it.

For now, I am not going to name names.

But it has been brought to my attention by more than one Sault Ste. Marie parent that a certain head coach of a teenage minor hockey team went on a recent post-game rant in the dressing room in which he called his players uncomplimentary names, questioned their ability to play the game and in general used what might be described as abusive language.

In other words, the coach in question crossed the line and his assistant coaches were there to hear what this so-called leader of young men had to say, in derogatory tones, to his team of young teenage players.

I will say that the matter has been brought to the attention of the Sault Major Hockey Association and it can only be hoped that it is dealt with in an appropriate and just manner.

Mental health is no longer a subject that is taboo around — in this case — a youth hockey rink. When parents leave their young player to the supervision of a coach, they have a right to expect that their youngster will not be subject to verbal abuse that could cause a mental health issue.

Talk Today is designed to have a positive impact on the players, as well as coaches, parents and members of the community. To that extent, participating CMHA branches, including the one in Sault Ste. Marie, a few years back established what are called mental health coaches.

Ergo, any parent of a player who feels their child is being mentally abused or affected by their coach can contact the local branch of the CMHA.

This is 2017. These are no longer the dark ages of hockey.

What is wrong is no longer permitted to be right.

Enough is enough.

What you think about “Say it ain’t so, coach”

  1. Interesting article.
    Just came back from a trip to the South and took in a Pee Wee House League game.
    My grandson was playing one level above house league and was treated as if his Coach was going to go on to bigger and better things. “Don’t miss practice unless you have a broken arm or leg” was his comment to the players in my grandsons last game with that team. He played one shift in the third period of the game. Following the game his parents felt that he was not enjoying himself and requested through the Minor Hockey Association to move back to house league. The move was granted and he played regular shifts in his first two games. His parents received a welcome to our team from the coaching staff. What a difference. This coach really cares about his team.
    The smile was tough to wipe off his face after he recorded a goal in the game we were at.
    Minor hockey the way it should be. Thanks to his new coach for treating everyone equal.

  2. I could say a lot on how my son was treated n abused this summer! Telling him you have a good chance of making this team! Only to be dragged thru the mud of politics! Telling him you’re on the team only if a younger kid from a lower division doesn’t get his release from there! Signing kids from last year n kids not having a full tryout. Where as my son skated most of the summer n full tryout! Now if he made the team how do you think he might have been treated??? Fairness? I think not! Good thing is my son opted not to play for this particular coach! I hear rumblings and it’s too bad! What about the kids? It’s about them n not you! Karma will find it’s way!!! My son was hurt but not to be outdone! At least he’s getting his chance in other sports now but hockey was his #1 now has been pushed to even with the 2 other sports!!! Proud of my son!

  3. In my opinion, Sadly another error in coaching selection by Sault Major. Garbage in equals garbage out.

    For the sake of our youth and the survival of youth hockey in Sault Ste Marie hopefully one day very soon our executive wake up and realize the destruction they’ve done.

    It’s now pathetic. Hockey families beware!

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