Crocker looks back

Former coach of the Ceebee Stars of­fers ad­vice

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER THE COM­PASS

Corey Crocker re­mem­bers when he was first of­fered the job as head coach of the CeeBee Stars se­nior hockey team.

The Har­bour Grace na­tive was in a car with NHLer Dan Cleary and friends Ian Moores and Mark Reynolds in Detroit, Michi­gan when his cell­phone rang. On the other end was CeeBees’ ex­ec­u­tive mem­ber Peter Ge­orge. It was De­cem­ber 2011.

The club had just dis­missed Steve Power af­ter a dis­ap­point­ing start to the in­au­gu­ral sea­son of the New­found­land Se­nior Hockey League, and were look­ing for a re­place­ment to come in get the team back on track.

“The first ini­tial thought was, ‘Wow, this would be neat,’” Crocker re­called.

Crocker was, and still is, liv­ing in Amherst, Nova Sco­tia where he is the phys­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties co-or­di­na­tor with the town. With a young fam­ily in Nova Sco­tia, Crocker had to clear ev­ery­thing with the boss.

“Ev­ery­thing goes through my wife,” he said.

How­ever, with the sup­port of his friends and fam­ily in Nova Sco­tia, Crocker ac­cepted the coach­ing job, and helped guide the CeeBees to the play­offs.

“It meant a lot,” Crocker said of coming back to the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

He was pre­vi­ously in­volved in bring­ing the CeeBees back into se­nior hockey.

Crocker car­ries a great sense of pride for the or­ga­ni­za­tion he grew up play­ing with.

“You get goose bumps when you look up and see the Herders and the cham­pi­onships you won with friends,” he said. “Any­one who has been in­volved in sports, or had the op­por­tu­nity to coach or play, it’s al­ways nice to play in your home­town or coach in your home­town.

“It’s some­thing that very sel­dom hap­pens, but it was so nice to do.”

Shock­ing move

In a shock­ing move, Crocker was let go as head coach of the CeeBees on Feb. 11, just a day af­ter the club had clinched the fourth and fi­nal play­off spot in the provincewide league.

Crocker said there were chal­lenges with trav­el­ling to New­found­land for games ev­ery week­end.

“It’s very hard work­ing all week and then leav­ing your fam­ily,” he said. “Es­pe­cially, as my daugh­ter got older and she re­al­ized I was gone on week­ends … and then coming back here late Mon­day morn­ing and go­ing to work. That was hard phys­i­cally on the body. “That part, I coped with and I got through it.” At the same time, Crocker said his time was “a lot of fun” and “was a really good fit.”

“I got to coach with my best friend, Ian Moores, and a very near, close friend in Peter Ge­orges,” he said. “My time was fan­tas­tic.”

Ev­ery time he stepped on the ice at the S.W. Moores Me­mo­rial Sta­dium, Crocker “gleamed with pride” as he was rep­re­sent­ing the long and sto­ried his­tory of the CeeBee fran­chise.

“I was a part of it as a young kid, I was a part of it as a player, as some­one bring­ing it back to the area and was a part of it as a coach,” he said.

Chal­lenges

The main chal­lenge fac­ing Crocker was hav­ing to play games on the week­ends, with­out prac­tice time with his play­ers.

That meant draw­ing up game plans, line com­bi­na­tions and the like on the fly and try­ing to im­ple­ment his sys­tems dur­ing games.

“Be­ing in Nova Sco­tia and to fly home and coach this hockey team with­out prac­tic­ing is very dif­fi­cult. It’s a very unique sit­u­a­tion,” said Crocker. “Maybe last year, it was some­thing that worked for a short pe­riod of time. But, dur­ing a long sea­son, maybe it had its toll. I don’t know.”

Of­fer­ing ad­vice

Crocker had some ad­vice for the club mov­ing for­ward. He said the or­ga­ni­za­tion needed to be re­built from the ground up.

“You can’t build a house with­out a strong foun­da­tion,” said Crocker. “As I put in, the ex­ec­u­tive needs to hap­pen and our mi­nor hockey kids need a good, solid or­ga­ni­za­tion of play­ers they can look up to. So, they can thrive to play se­nior hockey for their home­town.

“We need to build an or­ga­ni­za­tion that role models, spon­sors and peo­ple want to be a part of.”

Crocker said the need is there for a prop­erly set up or­ga­ni­za­tion, one that has a pres­i­dent, vice-pres­i­dent, sec­re­tary and a trea­surer.

“You need to have a booster club, and spon­sor­ship pack­ages,” said Crocker. “Have trans­parency. If peo­ple want to see what’s go­ing on, they can come to a meet­ing and voice their opin­ion. The le­git­i­macy of the or­ga­ni­za­tion will then at­tract play­ers.”

The CeeBees are gear­ing up to wel­come the Grand Fall­sWind­sor Cataracts to Har­bour Grace for Games 3 and 4 of the Herder Me­mo­rial Tro­phy semi­fi­nal se­ries, and Crocker said the team needs the fans sup­port.

“The fans need to come out and cheer on the team,” he said.

nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Corey Crocker is seen on the CeeBee Stars bench dur­ing a re­cent se­nior hockey game at the S. W. Moores Me­mo­rial Sta­dium in Har­bour Grace.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.