Whit­bourne site for stone toss­ing

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Once a week, the lo­cal arena in Whit­boure keeps ice skaters away so lo­cal curl­ing en­thu­si­asts can send a few stones into the rings. Games have been hap­pen­ing at Trinity Pla­cen­tia Sta­dium for over 30 years.

To steal a line from Fam­ily Guy’s Peter Grif­fin, you know what re­ally grinds my gears?

Watch­ing mi­nor hockey coaches pa­trol their benches with­out nary a word to their young charges. They might holler ‘ change’ or the al­ways an­noy­ing ‘ dump the puck and go get it’ – what kind of coach­ing is that? - or bark some non­sense at the ref­eree in a vague at­tempt to get one over on the of­fi­cial.

They do the one thing they’ve been put in those places to do and that is coach, but they fail to make their play­ers bet­ter or cor­rect even the tini­est de­tails dur­ing the course of a game.

Take the plight af­fect­ing hun­dreds of young de­fence­men in this prov­ince as an ex­am­ple. Some­where along the line, they’ve been told to shoot the puck blindly as soon as it touches their blades.

Some­one had the bright idea to tell a de­fence­man that and now, it is some­thing that seem­ingly can­not be cor­rected. It is just a lack of ef­fort, re­ally.

Now, I know Coach Bob is vol­un­teer­ing his time and he’s do­ing the best he can. I ap­plaud Coach Bob for giv­ing up his time to help the kid out. It takes up a lot of a per­son’s time to vol­un­teer to coach a mi­nor hockey team.

If they make a great pass, let them know. If they turn the puck over, let them hear about it.

It means long week­ends on the road, some­times in snow and other weather types, and deal­ing with par­ents who aren’t al­ways go­ing to see things your way. Coaches are great vol­un­teers for sure.

But, at some point we need those great vol­un­teers to be great coaches. It doesn’t mat­ter if its ‘A,’ ‘B,’ or ‘C’ hockey or tid­dly, if you’re on the bench you need to coach. Just be­cause you open the gate, doesn’t mean you can’t give some ad­vice where you see a kid do­ing some­thing wrong.

If they make a great pass, let them know. If they turn the puck over, let them hear about it. As long as you’re en­cour­ag­ing or at­tempt­ing to cor­rect, that’s be­ing a coach. Open­ing the gate and closing it isn’t the trait of a coach. It’s the trait of a Wal-Mart greeter.

If you want to call your­self a coach, you have to im­part some form of knowl­edge. It is as sim­ple as that.

I un­der­stand it may take a sea­son to re­ally find your voice. It’s that lit­tle inkling in your head that lets you know it’s time to share some wis­dom. Up un­til that point, you’re not sure when to speak and when not too.

You know what you want to say, but get­ting to the point where it forms a co­her­ent sen­tence takes a bit of time.

It is not all on the vol­un­teers though. If the bare min­i­mum is all that’s re­quired to get on the bench, then can we re­ally ex­pect any bet­ter for the play­ers?

But, then you run into the prob­lem of hav­ing not enough coaches. The vol­un­teers will­ing to get on the bench should not be run off at the same time.

It is a ques­tion that needs to be asked and an­swered. Too many coaches are on the bench that have no busi­ness be­ing there. Do I know the an­swer? No. Am I this great coach who is above crit­i­cism? No. In fact, my in­ex­pe­ri­ence prob­a­bly led to the col­lapse of my team in a re­cent tour­na­ment.

Ni­cholas Mercer is a re­porter/pho­tog­ra­pher with The Compass. He doesn’t claim to be a great bas­ket­ball coach, but he tries. He can be reached at nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca.


Steve Pin­sent (left) and Dar­ryl Ge­orge sweep a rock to its fi­nal des­ti­na­tion.

Ni­cholas Mercer To the Point

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