USA Hockey’s Coaching Education Program ranks among the most rigorous in all of youth sport. The Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 clinics set a firm foundation for creating a great youth hockey environment. Next comes the Level 4 clinic, which for most attendees, is an eye-opener.
“It’s quite a bit different than the Level 1 through 3; it’s more intense,” said Chuck Gridley, New York District coach-in-chief. “Almost always, coaches walk out surprised because it’s at a dramatically higher level.”
USA Hockey coaches-in-chief host approximately 35 Level 4 clinics annually. Gridley conducted the most recent, held in conjunction with the IIHF World Junior Championship in Buffalo, New York. In keeping with the typically unique nature of the Level 4, this one had a special flavor, but it wasn’t the hot wings. Instead, it was a distinctly international fare.
Among the highlights:
A pair of USA Hockey staff members – Kenny Rausch and Rich Hansen – were also among the presenters. They were joined by 2018 U.S. National Junior Team assistant coaches Grant Potulny and Steve Miller, who provided an inside look at the Team USA coaching process.
In all, it was an outstanding two days of education, discussion and networking for the 159 attending coaches. They also got to be part of the memorable IIHF World Junior Championship outdoor game, watching the U.S. top Canada 4-3 amidst the snow and spectacle at New Era Field.
“We make strides every year and our goal always is to give our coaches great opportunities to learn,” said Gridley. “Each year, these clinics get more engaging and inspiring. The coaches leave with new ideas and new vigor. It’s usually pretty inspiring, and this one was no different in that regard. I’ve probably done 14 of these Level 4 clinics and this was the best I’ve seen. We got a ton of positive feedback afterward.”