Archive for the ‘Winter 2012-13’ category

Finally The Right Door, And I Opened It Myself!

December 22, 2012

This blog entry may come as a shock to some, or at least a bit of a surprise.  To me it’s not, ’cause I felt it coming for the past few weeks.  If I’ve surprised myself at all, it’s because I finally did decide “that’s it”.

I’m also surprising myself a little from the way I ended my last post, suggesting back then that I’d pursue a certain Plan A for as long as it seemed feasible, and then I’d move on to Plan B or C and so forth.  

Actually, I sense that some folks will find my wade through Plan A interesting, while others might want to skip down to Plan B.  The option is also there for you to skip each of my early possibilities, and go right straight to what has now become Plan D for me, or “The Big Decision”.

Plan A – My Dream Job

Just to refresh my faithful followers’ minds, my biggest dream was to start a Junior hockey organization down here in Florida — from scratch.  I love molding things.  Of course, I’d been building a plan since back in May — in my head, on paper, and on my PC, so I had a pretty clear vision of what I wanted a new organization to look like or be like.

Problem:  Most of the important stuff would have to be in place early, in order to go whole-hog into the player recruiting phase, beginning on March 1.  So, this being very late December, and counting backwards, we’re really only talking two months remaining to get an unbelievable amount of stuff accomplished.

If you’ll also recall, I’ve been through the Junior recruiting thing once on my own already, and again later helping my son with his team.  I’d also spent 7-years trying to lure talented incoming freshman to my old college team.  So, I know the questions asked — by the players, and then by the players’ parents.  And, should anyone want to believe their questions aren’t valid, I’d say, “Guess again!”

Too little, too late.That last bit was a huge bone of contention between the long-gone TEHL Commissioner and me.  For example, while parents and players constantly asked if there was a website they could visit, the Commissioner thought it not that necessary.  Well, he maybe felt that way, and so could anyone else.  What really mattered, though, were the needs of those players and parents.

It’s not much different than any other kind of sales, really…  A seller can believe he or she has the greatest product in the world.  However, if its features don’t match the needs of potential buyers, the seller is going out of business in a hurry.

Anyway, by March 1, the guy in charge of hockey operations has to be able to say, “THIS is the Beaver Swamp Angels Hockey program!”  ( 😀  That team name, by the way, was an imaginary one concocted by my favorite childhood uncle, who just happened to be one of the world’s greatest storytellers.)

First, an organization wants a player to die to be a part of it; and for that, the things that tend to entice young guys have to be in place.  I’m not talking about vague promises that those things are coming, but they need to be in place, and maybe even depicted in photos or in a promotional video.

Secondly — assuming the player does want to come, the parents need to feel secure about a number of things.  More than anything, they tend to care about education, housing, the amount of training, and the possibility their son will get exposure to the right people.  And THEN — yes, I said, “And Then”…  Parents also need to know that it’s going to be worth their while to submit a substantial deposit.

Yet another reason things really need to be in place early is that the recruiting season can be extremely hectic.  I mean, I’m talking about dealing with players and scouts from around the globe, and in virtually every time zone.  Just considering North America, time zones span some 5-hours — from the Canadian Maritime Provinces to the US state of Alaska.  Making telephone connections aren’t the whole of it, though.  No, a real recruiter follows a systematic approach for each player, with each being on a totally different timetable.

I had connections lined up from literally all over the hockey world.I mentioned in a previous post how I’ve always liked to stray outside hockey for new ideas.  Well, what I’ve learned from some really innovative business leaders is the need to put “systems” in place for certain processes.  Besides what I know about hockey recruiting, I gained access this summer to a standard, step-by-step college football recruiting process.  As I also mentioned in an earlier post, I’d set up a system of scouts or “bird dogs” — from literally around the world — who promised to stay on the alert for prospects.  And, as a suggestion to other Junior hockey recruiters, you might Google “autoresponder” for your emailing needs; I’ve been using one with my Internet businesses for years, and it can be programmed to send out “personalized” messages on any timetable I want.)

If you get my drift, I believe that a ton of stuff has to be in place before recruiting can officially begin, so that the entire process can work as smoothly as possible.  Trust me, that there’s little time for other major projects once players are up for grabs.  And, trust me further that, if you don’t have the players, you don’t have a hockey organization.

Okay, so we’re creeping up on the end of the year, and I doubt very much that St Nick is bringing me any investors to put that new Junior program’s wheels in motion.  Even if Santa did, though, that would leave only January and February to get far too much done.

Perhaps this story will let you know how I’m built…  Lots of years ago, I started and then ran a pretty big hockey tournament — it was based in MA, but drew teams from at least four other states and at least two Canadian provinces.  On more than one (very) late night occasion, the rink owner told me I was working too hard.  I explained to him that, “Something like this is bound to have some things go wrong once the teams start arriving.  One problem should be easy enough to handle, and so might two.  However, leaving too many things to chance now is just asking for trouble.”

My point, of course, is that I could have used more than two months to do things right, and to limit the chance of foul-ups down the road.  Knowing Murphy’s Law rears its ugly head when we least expect it, I’d have preferred to deal with only one or two minor problems once the recruiting season got underway.

Consequently, I’m now announcing that the time has passed as far as I’m concerned, and I won’t be unveiling a new Junior hockey program for the 2013-14 season.  If you read on, you’ll discover that it’s unlikely I’ll do that in any future year, either.

Plan B – Not Exactly the Way Things Used to Be

In a way, I’m sad about the need to abandon Plan A, but…  Having decided it’s right to put that to rest — it made sense for me to move on to Plan B (if ever so briefly).

Ya, Plan B, which was actually intended to incorporate some of Part C.  And, ya, I ever so briefly studied these…

Coach Chic's Learn-to ClinicsIf there was a prayer of me running some Florida-based hockey clinics — or doing any of the other things I used to do back in MA, I’d have had to get on those this past summer.  Anyone who knows hockey should understand what I’m saying; for those who don’t, please appreciate that most special hockey clinics begin in the fall and continue through the winter until the spring.  So again, it’s virtually impossible to start something new once a rink has done its scheduling and gotten into its fall-winter scheme.

Why didn’t I jump right into offering my services to local rinks, or to local youth organizations, way back in the summer?  Grrrrrrrrrr…  There were so many times when I’d planned to do just that.  However, I’d then catch wind of a chance to get back into the Junior hockey, or I’d hear that there was something else hockey related opening up for me.  Later, of course, there was my own misappropriation of time spent on Plan A.

In effect, it was a rollercoaster ride:

I’m going to start my own programs…  Oops, no, a better opportunity might be opening up…  Naw, better get working on my own programs…  Oops, hold on, because there’s a chance that other opportunity is opening up again.

Ya, a regular roller coaster ride.

LOL…  I know a few family members have suggested I look into wearing a white paper hat, or that I should practice the phrase, “Welcome to Walmart!”  To be honest, I don’t see myself as above such jobs.  But, I’ll probably save those for something like Plan E (thank you very much).

Okay, so I’ve said for awhile that I’d work myself from Plan A to Plan B, yet it wasn’t until I got to that second door that I realized it had already closed.  Again, the time to look for work at local rinks has long since passed.

I also said that second stage was a two-parter.  In other words, while I hoped to run some local clinics or camps, or do some private on-ice lessons, I’d still have plenty of time left over to dabble with something else.  And that something else would be another favorite activity of mine, my Internet work — Plan C, if you will.

Plan C – Another Love of Mine

Hmmmmmmm…  Did I mention a rollercoaster ride earlier?  Man, here’s how it really went:

Some work on my dream job — of building that Junior program…  Some thoughts about what on-ice programs I could offer locally…  The realization that the only place I was making an income was on-line…  Then — oops…  A hint from the outside that there might be something good awaiting me…

Call my state of mind through most of that overwhelm, frustration, what have you, but life has not been fun for quite some time:

Up on this possibility, down ’cause it didn’t happen, up with some new possibility, down and disappointed again.

CoachChic.comThe interesting thing — and see if you can think along with me here, is that any one of those jobs would have been fun and fulfilling.  I mean, I surely would have loved running the Junior program, and maybe even coaching the team.  I’d have loved overseeing a youth organization (God knows most of the ones in Florida could have used my guidance).  I’d have surely loved running my form of weekly skill development and hockey schools (I’m probably the only person you know who has actually helped an easy dozen students make it to the NHL, and hundreds upon hundreds more play at other high levels of the game).

All that said, time spent considering such things has been nothing more than a waste for me, and more dangerously, it threatened my sanity.  On the other hand, the only thing I could safely scramble back to was my on-line work, or the part I viewed as Plan C.

Plan D — This Was “It” All Along

Having already mentioned my sanity being threatened, I kinda know that my physical health has also slipped a bit over recent months.  I blame a lot of that on the proverbial rollercoaster, because all the changing of attention robbed yours truly of so-called “Me Time”.  I somehow became too rapt in the latest whatever — half the time in a panic, and failed to climb on my Whole Body Vibration machine, I skipped the walks I’ve always liked to take for exercise and mind clearing, and I haven’t been in the readily available pool or hot tub since I can’t remember when.  And it’s those things — among a few others — that suddenly struck me within the past few days.

What exactly is Plan D?  It’s going to be henceforth a total dedication to my Internet work.  (Oh, I can hear some of the snickers now.)  However…

I absolutely love dealing with my CoachChic.com members.  And, while the fee to belong to our group is minimal, folks there pay me fairly well to do something I can really sink my teeth into.

Yet another beauty to that kind of work is that the only boss (or bosses) I have are my customers.

And, guess what…  The commute from my bed to my office is about 15-seconds.

Then, besides the fact that I love that work — and I know quite a bit about it, I have to admit that it’s never really been given a fair chance to succeed beyond where it is right now.  I mean, every time I’ve wanted to expand CoachChic.com offerings or venture into something new, I’ve been sidetracked by one of the many interruptions I’ve noted above.

And that last statement brings me to say — with no turning back, that I am for now on going to be a full-time Internet marketer.  I am also, quite obviously, retiring from coaching hockey, except for the rare instances where it helps my on-line work.  So…

– The only reason I won’t quickly sell my personal gear is because I just might want to teach my lady friend to skate at a local public session.  I might also need it to demo for a future hockey video production.

– If anyone contacts me for advice on organizing a Junior hockey program — or seeks any other sort of hockey guidance, they’re going to be on the clock for what I got back home when I hired out:  $125/hour — and I’m not leaving the comfort of my home.

– It should make sense that I don’t need any seeds planted in my head about potential hockey work doing this or that; that’s what ultimately brought me to this decision.

Lastly, a few things…

Lest anyone think I have any regrets, it’s only that I waited so long to arrive at this decision.  You won’t believe how good it suddenly feels, knowing I can get up tomorrow morning with only one hat to wear (phew).

Nor will I miss my old title, because I was already a former high school coach, a former hockey school director, a former college coach, a former guest speaker and lecturer, and a lot of former other things.  So, I’m as comfortable as I can be in referring to myself for now on as a former hockey coach.

Perhaps another interesting aside…  A lot of guys retire from playing without ever really coming to grips with it — they’ll spend the rest of their living days and nights sitting on a bar stool and crying in their beers, something like, “Ya know, I could have been…”

Well, of the three sports I played, baseball was the one that took me the furthest, and kept me active the longest.  A challenge for me arrived when my military commitment sorta meant that I would have to be a part-timer with my team.  And, although my manager (God bless his heart) begged me to keep playing, I let him know that I’d suffer more under those circumstances than if I walked away completely.  And, son of gun, if I didn’t end up being totally satisfied with that.

So, does it make sense to you that I know in my heart I’m going to be totally satisfied with my latest decision?  Truly, you can count on it.

Hopefully everyone understands exactly what’s going on in my head, and wishes me success in my new life.  I’m psyched, and I suspect that those who really care about me will at least respect my declaration that…

I am officially retired from coaching hockey!  😀

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We Live, We Learn, We Move Forward – Part 2

December 12, 2012

Hopefully, you’ve had a chance to read Part 1 in this two-part series.  (Is there a chance there’ll be a Part 3?  Hmmmmm…)  Trust me, though, that the earlier post is relevant to what I’m about to say. 

No matter, this very brief recap…

In a nutshell — and at the urging of others, I came to the realization that I had to stop dwelling on the negatives that so dominated the last several months of my professional and personal life, I had to do a fair accounting of what I had going for me (and against me), and then I needed to start plotting a new course for the rest of my life.

Thankfully, I could list a ton of things working in my favor…  A long history and a pretty good reputation in hockey has to rank high on that list.  There’s no taking away my 40+ years in coaching every level in the game — up through high school, Juniors and college, as well as my steering hundreds of young players towards the NHL and other high levels.  There’s my God given ability to just keep churning out hockey advice articles, manuals and instructional videos.  No stranger to Internet marketing, I own over 100 websites, highlighted by CoachChic.com, my Tips & Tricks Store, and this more personal blog — “Coach Chic’s Hockey Diary”.  Then, at least in the hockey world, I have to be close to the king of social media, with lots of fairly high level folks even seeking my advice.

Lastly, a couple of things I failed to mention in my previous entry…  1) Noting my desire to remain here in Florida, gazes out across palms remind me daily that my dad seemed to wish I’d eventually settle here.  (Darn, but he’s buried about 90-minutes away from me, and he’d enticed me for years to “come on down” prior to his passing.)  2) Totally separate from my outside professional work, I was able to help guide and then follow my son through a relatively successful pro playing career, and my grandson through a record-breaking college career.  And, trust me:  Every step along the way was a learning experience, for them and for me.

This somewhat humorous reflection…  Many years ago, I won a fairly lucrative contract to run skills clinics for a MA-based youth organization in what I thought was an interesting way.  As it was related to me after that program’s closed meeting, I guess that a board member ultimately stood and said her piece:  “All of these applicants have big names, yet they can’t even teach their own kids how to play, while Dennis has taught his son well enough to be the best player in the region!”  (I’m chuckling as I type that, having to delete a whole bunch of expletives I understand were sprinkled throughout her real speech.)

I ended the previous post by mentioning that my son is now staying with Raggs and me for a time, as he attempts to put together a new Junior hockey team just around the corner from where I’m living.  Trust me, that this plays no small part in what is to follow…

Part 2 – What I REALLY Want to Do!

Ya, I forgot that message to the left, too, because I’m only a man, and I’ve never claimed to be able to do anything without help.

Okay, so I headed down here to Florida from Massachusetts during the mid-summer, but I’d actually started what I saw as my dream job much earlier.  I was no stranger to either the Junior level — having run an experimental program for USA Hockey many years ago, or recruiting — having head coached in college for 7-seasons.  I’d also seen the best and worst of that process, having watched Mike and Tony Chic go through similar experiences as teens.

Anyway, starting my new GM/coaching duties back in May, I’m going to suggest that I haven’t really left that job at all.  From Day One I began plotting my strategies towards building a “real program”, I’d started the recruiting process, and I’d also started putting together a scouting network that spans the entire hockey world — yes, I said the entire hockey world.  I’m even into some scouting services most folks in the business don’t even know about.  And don’t forget my social media contacts, because each of my 15,000-ish friends has friends of friends of friends.

Lest you think that my work ended when I left the St Cloud job, think again.  At that time, I’d already recruited more players than any other TEHL GM, and I still had a number of them on the way (some later funneled to my son’s team in Daytona Beach).  At the time, I was able to still keep a pulse on league goings on.  And, within days of the Tropical Elite Hockey League’s ultimate collapse, I proposed to my former owner a way that I might help her still make a success of her organization for years to come.  (Here I go chuckling to myself again, because shortly after telling me that she could do it on her own, she folded the Thunder’s tent and limped on back to Alaska.  Geeeeeeeze…)

I mentioned in that last paragraph about helping my former owner build an organization that would be successful for years to come.  I can’t help it, I guess, but that’s how I’m built — a delayed gratification kind of guy, who isn’t just looking for a quick fix.  Pay some dues now, don’t take any needless shortcuts, and it’s possible to have something truly worthwhile down the road.

I must admit that the whole TEHL thing was a nightmare to those of us who put our faith in one man and a special concept.  And, in a way, my son and I were probably torched as badly as anyone involved.  At the same time, there’s the chance we’ll both do much better in the end, mainly because we have staying power.  True enough, that I was close to ruined, and I’m sure my son feels no better off.  Yet, no one can take away the hockey knowledge in our heads, nor the passion in our hearts.  (I’m always reminded of a line from an old football movie, whereby a smaller guy looks up at a giant and warns, “You may beat me, but you’d better bring your lunch!”)

As I just hinted, a number of teams attempted to make it on their own as independents once the TEHL folded.  I predicted in an earlier blog post the kind of future I foresaw for each of the seven teams, and I think I was dead-on with all but one of them (and I was right about the St Cloud team’s chances, based on whether they brought me back or not).

Hardly breaking stride, I switched from my Thunder job to helping my son behind the scenes with his Daytona Beach team.  Not a lot changed, either, because I was helping Mike by doing special assignments, scouting, and trying to beat the bushes for some new recruits.  I also continued to keep a pulse on Junior hockey, from AAU happenings to USA Hockey procedures to what was going on in most of the Junior hockey leagues across North America.

You might find it interesting that I also never stopped gathering information.  In other words, I kept working as if I was still a Junior team GM, or in charge of a Junior team’s hockey operations.  I am an incessant hockey information gather, ya know, and my files and folders on all the related topics have just grown and grown, right through this morning.

Let me also share a bit of advice with anyone who is a professional — at anything…  Never limit yourself to studies having to do with just your own special field.  In fact, little innovation ever comes about in that way.  I learned that in my earliest years, studying the likes of great coaches, great businessmen, and great military leaders.  In one of my favorite hockey books of all-time, “Road to Olympus“, the late and great Soviet ice hockey coach, Anatoli Tarasov, cites more famous people from the theater than those in hockey.  In fact, you might borrow one of Tarasov’s favorite lines — and one that has been a guiding force for me, in that “To follow someone else is to always be second best.”

So, while I’ve been leaving no stone unturned in studying the right ways to put together a winning hockey operation, I believe I’ve been wise enough to also grab some slightly related ideas — from other kinds of recruiters, other business types, etc.  (I have a lady friend who is trained in Human Resources, and it’s just a matter of time before I start picking her brain, and maybe even asking if she recalls any suggested readings from her college days.)  The other day I downloaded and saved two different approaches from a publication every business thought leader has nearly memorized, and I also watched a documentary on that same classic, “The Art of War“.

So again, while it’s absolutely necessary to know your own field exceedingly well, you’re not likely to be tops in your profession without venturing outside for some new and innovative ideas.

Now, having perhaps beaten to death the idea that I’ve yet to really leave my job as a Junior hockey exec, here’s a bit more on that…  As I mentioned earlier, my son is now staying with Raggs and me, and it should come as no surprise that we constantly talk hockey.  Hey, it’s something we both know as well as anyone, and it’s something we never tire in discussing.  Our conversations might start over morning coffee, they’ll likely continue with the many phone calls that go in and out — with recruits, league or federation execs, or other GMs or coaches, and they’ll often pick up again late at night when Mike returns from his duties at the local rink.  Oh, those duties:   He’s Director of Hockey Operations for the one remaining TEHL team.  The fact that his organization is basically a startup, and wrought with all the challenges and craziness that comes with such, I’ll suggest that it’s the best kind of training he could ever get, and it’s the best stuff I could ever observe.  (Ya, my son is likely to get some gray hairs as he deals with all that can happen in a first season, but I’m thinking he’s learning more right now than could ever be found in a college text.  Come to think of it, that goes for me, as well.)

In most instances, I’m doing all the listening, and I’ll only on occasion offer my thoughts on a given subject.  Hey, it’s Mike’s neck in the noose, and he has to deal with things in ways that help him sleep at night.  I’m still feeling I’m on the job, though, as the discussions go from recruiting to fundraising to roster moves to dealing with ownership to the selection of team coaches and other staff.

Trust me, that I quiz Mike an awful lot…   And one recurring question has had to do with how many of the challenges — and especially the annoyances — could be avoided as a second-year organization, or under different circumstances.  From my observations, a lot of the things he has to endure are huge distractions, or they take away from his ability to deal with the most important matters.

Mike and I have also bantered around visions of the ideal organization.  And, since good players make up a huge part of a successful Junior program, we’ve attempted to list all those things that appeal to the decision makers — meaning the players and their parents.  (Trust me on that one, too, in that players and parents have some very different concerns, which means that the wisely run organization is going to touch all of those bases).

Interestingly, the cost cutting measures I’m hearing about down here for some Junior programs were used in my summer hockey schools a kzillion years ago.  As a matter of fact, I sense that few hockey guys in Florida have dealt as creatively with ice-time, scheduling and very large staffs in the way I learned to do.

At this stage of the game, I’ve seen an entire league go under, and I’ve had the chance to watch at least 7-teams deal with varying degrees of adversity.  (See my post on the House of Cards for a few of my thoughts in that area.)  Mentioning earlier my stabs at predicting which teams would fail and which ones had the chance to succeed, I believe I now know what it takes to build a Junior organization for the long haul.

And that brings me back to the reason I gave up just about everything back home to relocate so far away…  Of course, I saw the chance to develop a new Junior hockey organization as my dream job.  Ask anyone who knows me, and they’ll tell you I’m the creative type, and that I can get kinda possessed when taking on a really worthwhile challenge. That mindset started the night I was hired by the Thunder — back in May, and it hasn’t subsided all that much while I’ve been on the sidelines.  I hardly slept a wink that first night on the job, or on many subsequent nights thereafter.  Actually, I haven’t had any set “work hours” in probably 40-ish years; I mean, I love what I do, and the job is only done when it’s done.

So, what is it I REALLY want to do with the rest of my life?  I want another crack at that dream job, and I want the chance to develop as good a Junior hockey organization as anyone has ever seen.  Would I coach?  Only if it helped the organization.  Would I want to GM, or be in charge of hockey ops?  Ya, that’s what I’m talking about, a chance to put a program on the map.

The truth is, I do have a VERY DESIRABLE location in mind, and one that projects to be a huge success, both in the short and long term.  Again, read my post concerning the House of Cards, to gain an understanding of why so many TEHL teams failed.  Down the road, maybe Mike Chic can also ultimately share his thoughts on why some startup hockey operations might more than struggle in the beginning.

I will let friends in on one secret, however…  Time is of the essence.  One HUGE mistake made by the TEHL Commissioner had to do with the short window given before all teams had to be in full swing — like 4-months for the earliest members, and closer to a couple of months for the later arrivals.  Not fair, and not right.  In reality, time is needed to put an organization in place, to establish an identity for the organization, and to start entertaining players — exactly in that order.  New players and their parents are looking for tangibles, and they’re not likely to make the commitment a club asks without sensing that club can produce all it’s promised.  (In my mind, it’s getting late already, because no one does any job rightly when they’re having to rush important steps.)

Yet another aside…  As I got around the recruiting circuit this past summer, I discovered a wide array of offerings by different Junior programs, with just as wide a difference in what they’re charging their players.  Perhaps the “going rate” for a basic program might be in the vicinity of $8000 for a season.  However, would you believe I came across one organization that charges $25,000 to their members, and they were supposedly turning players away?  You can spell the difference:  A-M-E-N-I-T-I-E-S, plus the reputation for keeping its promises.

Okay, so I’ve sorta been dreaming out loud or musing through most of this entry.  Ya, because if there’s anything wrong with all I’ve said to this point, it’s that I couldn’t possibly undertake my dream job on my own.  Oh, I can definitely design a plan that will work.  And, I can definitely carry out that plan — right to the first puck-drop, and ultimately to the hoisting of a championship banner.  What I’m no longer in a position to do (sigh) is fund such an undertaking.

What I’m getting at is the need for an investor, or more likely a group of investors.  Given the time — and resources, a new organization can step into a prestigious playing schedule, an upbeat city, and a welcoming arena.

Do I have a Plan B and a Plan C?  For sure.  But, at least for the next few weeks — or until the window of opportunity appears to be closing for my plan, why settle for anything less than my dream job?

We Live, We Learn, We Move Forward – Part 1

November 25, 2012

There’s no doubt I’ve been through a lot over the past 7-months — feeling I’d been lied to, used, ditched and abused.  (Not that I didn’t make my own mistakes along the way; truly, I did — in fact, I made a bunch of them.)  That stuff is documented pretty well in my last two posts, though, if you need to play some catch-up (“House of Cards” and “Yup, I’ve Been Fired!“).

Personally, I’ve turned a cheek on most of those events in the time that’s passed — mainly because dwelling on them seems to suit no useful purpose.  Earlier today, I caught an on-line lecture by a business coach, his main message suggesting that we ought not allow ourselves to be crippled by acting the victim.  (Think about that one, dear friends.)  I also saw the wisdom in the adjoining old adage, urging us to not quit.*

Now, describing my recent transition is likely to require a lot of ‘splaining — 😉 .  So, I’ll cover it in two parts, beginning today with my need to assess where I am, and what I have to work with…

Part 1 – Ya, don’t quit…

Ever felt the urge to, though — I mean, like in ending it all?  Don’t lie; I have to believe that it’s crossed the mind of every grownup at one time or another.  You’re still here reading this, though — and I’m still typing, which suggests to me that we both ultimately came around to another, better alternative.  In my case, I frequently get my first kick in the pants from something like this…

“You are a poor specimen if you can’t stand
the pressure of adversity.” ~ Proverbs, 24-10

Ha…  It’s almost as if King Solomon knew I was coming — thousands of years later.

That aside, I sense that we all have our own ways of dealing with adversity, overwhelm, frustration, what have you.  When I was younger, I did the usual — like pumping some iron, going for a run, or punching a piano.  (Ha, again, because I aged rather quickly with that last one, discovering uprights don’t budge a bit, while all the small bones in the human hand surely do.  Ugh.)

Lucky for me, I found yet another outlet some 20-odd years ago.  That’s when I was asked to write an advice oriented column for a popular hockey magazine (a few years later I also started writing for a second one).  Before the birth of CoachChic.com, I was able to address reader questions in hardcopy print.  Trust me, that it was an awesome forum in which to vent — about the things I saw wrong in hockey, about some slightly related pet peeves, and about the solutions I proposed for all of those.  (Interestingly, many of the ideas I shared in that long running column did influence the game around North America.  How do I know?  It’s because I saw the right kinds of changes gradually happening, and I was also told so by a number of higher-ups in our game.)

Of course, the two mags I wrote for have since gone the way of the dinosaurs, so I’m thankful I can continue influencing my favorite sport in digital format.  CoachChic.com is where I can deal with the way things ought to be when it comes to hockey skills, tactics, strategies and so much more.  Only in recent years did I see the need for a slightly related website — the one you’re now reading, where I can share with friends what it’s like to be me on a day to day basis.

So yes, I still have my writing to run to when it seems I’m stalled on other fronts.

Nowadays, I also have social media…  I’ll bet you didn’t know that I was one of the first on LinkedIn — back when new members had to be invited; I was one of the early birds on Twitter (pun intended 😉 ); I was invited to test Google+ when that first started; yet I was actually a fairly late arriver to Facebook (where I’ve quickly caught up and garnered around 4200 friends).  My point:  With upwards of 15,000 social media contacts today, there’s no shortage of people for me to interact with.

Here’s some food for thought…  Today, there is a growing number of folks working from home — I call us “soloists”.  And, while the lifestyle can be nice — including the 10-second commutes from our beds to our desks, it surely can be lonely.  So, for us, a preferred social media site often acts as our water cooler.  In my case, I find several sites unbelievable for both help and friendship.  For example, lacking an IT department in my “office”, I frequently find that kind of help — sometimes  in an instant — via on-line friends like Mike Mahony, Deb Kolaras and Tracey Thorpe Tarrant.  And, while I often spend long stretches of time engrossed in writing or producing a video, it’s comforting to know that I can even get a cyber hug just about any time I need one.

You’re wondering where I’m going with all this, huh?  Well, it’s all a part of the self-assessment I felt necessary before I could determine a new direction.  In a way, I felt I had to list all I have going for me — and even against me — as I ready to plot a new course.  And, quite obviously, I thought I’d give you a little background to the decisions I’ll ultimately be making.

My friends in social media know that I bring my laptop and a cup of coffee with me to the back patio each morning, and I basically marvel at the view before me — including the palm trees, the small pond, its beautiful water fountain, and a host of wildlife not seen back in Massachusetts.  My trusted buddy Raggs usually falls asleep at my feet, each of us providing more than a little comfort for the other, just knowing our best friend is close by.  Not long after all the craziness happened, I let the people running this complex know that the league I’d come down here for had folded, and I’d lost my job.  Asked what I planned to do, all I could say was, “I love it right here, and I hope to stay for a long, long time.”

So, that’s one of the givens:  that I plan on staying, and fighting.  There was no need to tell my landlord that I’d spent nearly every cent I had —  recruiting for my former team; getting myself, Raggs and our belongings down here; and trying to arrange the right conditions so I could get my work done well.  (In other words, just paying the rent and feeding Raggs and me is going to be a challenge.)  I say those things now, however, because they’re also part of the givens, or the current reality.

I won’t bore you with my resume, except to say that I worked pretty near year-round at hockey for over 40-years.  I head coached a team for just about every one of the winters included in that span, I’d run my own clinics on off winter days or nights, and then I’d run some of the largest hockey clinics and schools in New England during the spring and summer months.  And, while some coaches prefer one age group over another, I’ve always considered myself lucky to have worked with every level — from toddlers to college guys, and even getting the chance to train a good many pros during their off-seasons.

In a way, I think the latter has put me ahead of some of the biggest names in the game.  I mean, the pro and college coaches might know how to select the world’s top talents, and they even know what to do with them once they’re on the roster.  What few of them can do — and what I can do exceedingly well — is solve the problems of younger players so that they ultimately meet elite level requirements.

Anyway, yet another reality — or given — is that I’m virtually unknown here in the Sunshine State.  Some folks back home in New England might say that I’m one of the tops in the world when it comes to doing what I do, but it’s doubtful anyone here even knows I exist, or that I might be just down the road from them.  Oh, trust me, that I’ve done some sulking over that.  However, as I’ve come to realize in recent days, self pity serves no useful purpose whatsoever.

“Any enterprise is built by wise planning,
becomes strong through common sense,
and profits wonderfully by keeping
abreast of the facts.” ~ Proverbs, 24 – 3, 4

Sooooooo…  When it finally came to the facts — or that self-analysis, I included my power within social media as one of them.  Right along with that is my CoachChic. membership site, with friends there from all over the world.  Our interactions tend to serve an awesome dual purpose:   I know I help my members a lot by quickly dealing with their questions, while I also keep the cutting edge advice pouring into that site for them.  Selfishly, though, the chance to interact keeps me very much alive, and constantly thinking about the game.

Perhaps you didn’t know that I have an on-line hockey store, that featuring many products you wouldn’t find anywhere else.  To be honest, though, I haven’t done that site justice lately, which means that this whole self-analysis thing was long overdue.  Upon realizing that, I immediately joined forces with another hockey guy to launch Black Weekend (or an extended version of the current Black Friday craze).

What some might not know is that I’ve published quite a few hockey training manuals, and — having worked with video since 1980, I’ve more recently produced at least 20 instructional videos that are scattered between my membership site and my on-line store.  Could I do more?  😀  In my sleep.

Enter my son, Michael…  Actually, of all the people who were supposed to take part in the new Junior league down here, Mike and I are the only ones remaining.  (Interesting, huh?  I think at least part of the reason is that we probably believed in the league’s concepts more than some others, while we both probably also have a lot more dedication to the game.)  Anyway, Mike is staying with Raggs and me for the time being, as he attempts to put together a new team playing out of the local Ice Factory.  My guess is that most hockey folks would love to be a fly on the wall as we discuss the  game nearly 24/7.  Trust me, that those conversations hold some meaning to all this.  So, while I won’t be giving you any details on those talks, I promise that they will have a huge bearing on what I plan to tell you in Part 2.

Finally, as far as that last graphic just above goes, it was a recent gift from my good friend and favorite cheerleader, Brenda V.  As it suggests, I’m kinda banking on the chance to look back on recent events, and having myself a really good laugh.

See you all within a day or so, on where I hope to be pretty shortly.