Hockey’s history of international exchanges on the ice is well chronicled, but tales of off-ice relations rarely make headlines. So it is with the IIHF International Coaching Symposium, an annual event that brings great hockey minds together in the shadows of world-championship ballyhoo. But while the games grab all the attention, coaching symposiums like this help shape the game for future generations.
This year’s event, held May 13-14 in Cologne, Germany, featured presenters from Canada, Finland, Germany, Sweden and the United States. USA Hockey’s Mark Tabrum was there as an attendee, and he shared his thoughts in the following Q-and-A.
USA Hockey: As director of the Coaching Education Program, you see a variety of coaching seminars. What makes the IIHF symposium different?
Mark Tabrum: One unusual dynamic is that the IIHF coaching symposium brings in presenters who may or may not speak English as a primary language. So, in some cases, attendees may be watching a presentation live while listening to a translation through headphones. Or a presenter might be presenting in something other than his or her first language. Obviously that requires a high degree of focus, both for the attendees and the presenters.
USA Hockey: Dr. Stephen Norris was among the presenters at this year’s IIHF symposium. He’s also been a featured speaker at USA Hockey’s National Hockey Coaches Symposium. How was his message on long-term athlete development received on the international stage?
Tabrum: “In North America, we’ve seen his presentation numerous times, but for him to deliver the LTAD message to other coaches and leaders from around the world was powerful. To inform and educate an audience of coaches and leaders from around the world about long-term athlete development will only make the game better worldwide.
USA Hockey: What were some of the other symposium highlights?
Tabrum: Overall, it was a great event with a lot of good messages. Don Granato was terrific. He presented on skill development and long-term athlete development at USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program. Tom Renney’s opening address was excellent. He’s so in-tune with youth hockey and the international game. Uwe Krupp, who’s from Germany, closed the event with a cool wrap-up in his hometown. I also enjoyed Melody Davidson’s presentation on leadership. She’s presented at various USA Hockey women’s high-performance clinics and she brings so much enthusiasm and spirit for women’s hockey around the world.
USA Hockey: When it comes to coaching symposiums, it seems like USA Hockey and its neighbors to the north share fairly freely, even going back to the 1980s when people like Scotty Bowman were giving presentations in Colorado Springs. What’s your take on that?
Tabrum: “I think there’s got to be some crossover between our two countries when it comes to coaching education. The reality is, there aren’t many secrets.
USA Hockey: When you attend coaching symposiums like this, are you always looking for ideas for USA Hockey’s events?
Tabrum: More specifically, I’m looking at the presenters. Often, they’ve already been a part of our coaching education events, so I know what they can bring, but sometimes you discover someone new, so it’s helpful in that regard. Mostly though, it’s just about learning. There’s always something new out there, or at least a new way to present a concept that maybe resonates better for someone, and that’s something I’m always looking for, both as someone who likes to learn new things and as someone who tries to deliver value to our coaches throughout the country.