This year has undoubtedly been full of question marks and uncertainty. Lives were turned upside down due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, forcing major aspects of everyday life to go virtual.
USA Hockey, and the hockey community at large, was directly impacted with cancellations amidst quarantine shutdowns early Spring. As more people were forced indoors, the organization listened to feedback from leaders within the hockey community, including coaches, for how they can best serve the needs of members. Quickly, USA Hockey found new and creative ways to engage with coaches across the country with Coaching Webinars, Virtual Coaching Clinics and Temporary Coaching Cards.
While hockey is back in many parts of the country, USA Hockey continues to offer virtual clinics with new sessions being added every week. Coaches from coast to coast can register for any open clinic, even if the listed district is not their home district, in order to prepare for the 2020-21 season.
Ruban Mangadu, a USA Hockey Level 2 certified coach from California, boasted the benefits of the online format, saying he felt like he was able to have many meaningful and constructive conversations with coaches from all over.
“I would have to say this is one of the best sessions I’ve attended,” said Mangadu. “The online process has been really good to have one-on-one discussion time. I felt like I’ve had a lot of good interactions with coaches and have heard a lot of different coaches speak on their experiences.”
Coaches from across the country were able to meet and interact through these clinics.
While many attendees mentioned that it’s nice to connect with people face-to-face at the formerly in-person clinics, they had nothing but praise for the online format, citing how it was refreshing to connect with coaches from all across the country.
A USA Hockey Level 2 certified coach from Michigan, Kevin Holleran noted that the online format allowed sessions to be spread out over multiple days, which led to higher productivity for all involved.
“I really liked the format for a couple of reasons, first off it was really great getting to meet and work with people from all over the country,” said Holleran. “Breaking it up into three days really helped minimize fatigue. It was nice getting to reset and come back fresh. I felt like I got a lot of value out of it.”
In addition to large-group instruction, attendees have the added benefit of utilizing breakout rooms to delve deeper into small-group discussions and encourage engagement from everyone attending.
“The platform gave us a lot of good options,” said Jared Eisenmann, another Level 2 certified coach from California. “The breakout rooms gave us the chance to interact with coaches we may not have been able to talk with before, which in turn gave us a lot of good opportunities to learn and take notes.”
Andy Potter, who serves as a CEP instructor in Oregon, was able to attend the Bronze Level goaltending clinic due to the online format this year and he was impressed by how thorough the course was.
“This was truly fantastic,” Potter said. “I know we couldn’t get on the ice and we couldn’t do some of the movement stuff, but ultimately there was a ton of great information given to these coaches that they can now take with them.”
Potter also noted how the online format allowed for a more in-depth development of coaches that went beyond just the distribution of drills.
“Not only did they learn to be better coaches in the technical sense,” Potter said. “But they received a lot of good tools to become better educators, teachers and mentors.”
Potter referenced his overall excitement about actually being able to attend the virtual goalie clinic as he stated they usually take place at the same time as USA Hockey’s CEP classes. The flexible scheduling and ease of necessary travel has been a surprise benefit for many coaches as they explore the new online format.
Many coaches across the U.S. that have participated in a virtual coaching clinic have echoed very similar sentiments: they miss face-to-face interaction, but the online format has proven to be beneficial in more ways than one.