The search for Western Michigan University’s new director of player development netted a familiar face in a familiar place.
Former Broncos assistant captain David Killip was the face and Kalamazoo was the place.
It was an ideal fit for Killip, who spent last season pursuing his master’s degree at WMU and coaching youth players in the Kalamazoo Optimist Hockey Association. The British Columbia native was KOHA’s American Development Model skills director, a specialized coaching role that put him on the ice with every player in the USA Hockey Model Association. He’ll continue to help at KOHA this season, but now he’ll also lead player development for NCAA Division I student-athletes at WMU.
“Coach (Andy) Murray is good at listening to people on his staff and we’ve had plenty of conversations about what I did at KOHA with the ADM,” said Killip. “I expect to see it this year with our guys at Western.”
Killip was part of a skill development team at KOHA that worked once a week with each 10U, 12U, 14U and girls team, and then spent weekends with 6U and 8U players. Brian Tulik, KOHA’s program director, offered high praise for Killip.
“David’s knowledge and understanding of the game and his commitment to player development is a huge asset to KOHA,” said the former ECHL defenseman. “He’s a bright young man with an exceptional ability to understand the ADM and implement it with our players and coaches. We’re very fortunate to have him.”
Even though the ADM was new to Killip, he grasped the concepts quickly.
“It’s not something I had in hockey at that age, but I saw some of the principles in other sports,” he said. “I grew up playing soccer and I saw some of the concepts there. It’s a great way to use ice, maximize player reps and expose players to more individualized coaching. It’s huge for their development.”
And as a former NCAA Division I player, Killip easily embraced ADM core tenets like cross-ice hockey and small-area games.
“I’m a big fan of cross-ice,” he said. “It’s always been part of hockey at the upper levels and it’s even more valuable today because the college game has become all about speed, skill and making plays in small areas. For kids, cross-ice makes it more challenging for the advanced players and it gives the other players more puck touches and also more engagement, which adds to their development on both sides of the ice.”
As for his view on small-area games in practice, Killip not only enjoyed them as a player, he also liked how they transferred into games on Friday and Saturday nights.
“Small-area games are more competitive,” he said. “They always amped things up in practice, got the competitive juices flowing and heightened the speed of everything, so on the weekends, you could slow things down a little.”
His weekends – and weeks – will be anything but slow this season, with MBA classes and coaching duties aplenty, but Killip is ready for the challenge and eager to learn. With KOHA kids, college players and a mentor coach whose resumé includes 333 NHL victories, he’ll have no shortage of study material.