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Goalie Coach Educator Award Winner Stephanie Yates is Still Constantly Learning About the Position

By Dan Scifo, 07/10/24, 9:30AM MDT

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Yates serves as the goaltending development director for the Anaheim Jr. Ducks.

Stephanie Yates is one of the most dedicated goaltending coaches in the country, but she doesn’t do it for awards and acknowledgment.

Regardless, Yates was thrilled to receive the 2024 Goalie Coach Educator Award at the recent USA Hockey National Goaltending Symposium, which took place in St. Paul, Minnesota.

“It’s awesome to be recognized,” Yates said. “I’m excited and ecstatic for the recognition because it’s a huge passion to me, just to increase goaltending and goaltending education among more than just the goalie coaches. I was definitely surprised and honored, but it also lit a fire under me to want to continue to push and get more people on board with the change of culture in goaltending.”

Yates is USA Hockey’s Pacific District goalie coach-in-chief and the goaltending development director for the Anaheim Jr. Ducks. She said it was a highlight to be recognized among her peers.

“Especially to be in that symposium with some pretty high-end goalie coaches and big names in our culture and community within hockey, it was pretty special,” she said.

USA Hockey provides goaltending instruction for all levels, offering bronze, silver and gold-level courses. Bronze is the first step in the goaltending coach developer education program, and it highlights a greater understanding of goaltending fundamentals and best practices for drill design and game management.

Silver and gold-level courses are also offered throughout the year and Yates has spent countless hours grading bronze, silver and gold homework assignments as a proctor.

“It was more of a conversation, and it was amazing to see the coaches dive in a little deeper,” Yates said. “The classes were really amazing to be part of because I can see the change in the U.S., and all of the coaches involved, I could see the cultural shift. I would grade papers and hope the subject matter landed and to get those emails back thanking us for going through the course, it was awesome.”

Yates attended each of the silver in-person training events this year in Las Vegas, Boston and Anaheim, where she was a proctor to the gold students.

“Proctoring gold students is interesting because even though the proctors are serving in a mentor role, we’re learning as much as they are,” she said. “We’re having amazing, high-level discussions about some of the topics. It has been awesome to develop them, develop ourselves as proctors and you can see the impact it’s going to make.”

Yates also committed her entire association to take a bronze-level course, as the Anaheim Jr. Ducks hosted the event, specifically for 30 of the organization’s club coaches. The Anaheim Jr. Ducks also hosted a silver-level, in-person goaltending event for the rest of the country this past February.

“It’s a vast amount of people and finally getting them to buy in for the need of goaltending was an easy pitch,” Yates said. “You need to educate your coaches and across the board everyone joined us. The coaches feel more comfortable talking to their goaltenders now. I can see it. They’re not afraid to broach a conversation with me and now we’re incorporating more goaltending throughout the whole practice.”

Yates indicated that goaltending support is critical because there’s such a high curve to understand the position and instructional events can help to further bridge the gap throughout the community. Yates and the Jr. Ducks gained further knowledge by hosting the silver-level course, as she convinced her director that their position numbers would never improve without quality support from all coaches within the club.

There was a buzz surrounding goaltending in Anaheim during the clinic, as Ryan Miller, a former Duck, an Olympic silver medalist and one of thegreatest American-born goaltenders of all time, spoke at the event.

“He’s a legend amongst USA Hockey and hockey in general,” Yates said. “We hadn’t talked to him prior. He went up and communicated his opinion and it all aligned with what we were trying to say. He’s a wealth of knowledge and it was awesome to host him at the event.”

Yates said that goaltending is a difficult position, and it takes a long time to master. She recognizes that daily while working with her students and has made it her mission to increase education at the position.

“Every day is a dream because I get to continue to push within the sport that has given me so much throughout my life and I get to give back,” Yates said. “You have to have patience and drive to push through the obstacles the kids face because you’re going through it with them. The biggest piece is patience and connecting with the kids when I’m coaching. It’s ecstatic to see their joy when they achieve something they never thought they’d be able to do.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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