27 years ago, Complete Goaltending Development I (Coach Chuck) stepped on the ice at the Walter Baker sport centre in Barrhaven, Nepean at the age of 5. Saturday mornings at 7am were development day for theNepean Minor Hockey Association and with about 40 grass root, ankle biting future super stars on the ice (some for the very first time), The lead instructor blew the whistle and herd the group to centre ice. The young instructor in charge was no more than 18 years old but fully demanded the attention of every young player and I was all ears. Every Saturday for 2 season coach Steve ran the development practice and mini cross ice games. Aside from my dad coach Steve taught me how to skate, stop, stick handle, what an off side was and generally every nuance of the game a 5 year old could absorb when not distracted by the colour of the tape job of the player beside me. Steve made hockey fun and was a massive part of my development and I haven't forgotten him.
Fast forward some 24 years. After playing for 15 years and teaching for 10, I am lucky to still be in the game, instructing the position I love...goaltending. I work with an amazing group of people and with goalies in the west end of the city, including Nepean. Its a Wednesday night, myself and a group of coaches are teaching a goalie clinic for the NGHA. There is a young goalie on the ice with the last name Wolf. That name rings a bell but I cant put my finger on it. After the session, as Im skating off the ice I see a face in the stands that looks familiar. After processing the situation I realize its an older version of coach Steve staring right back at me.
Sophie Wolf has been a CGD goalie ever since and I am honoured and proud to coach the daughter of the man who inspired myself and so many dreamers all those years ago. It's not surprising that Sophie is an outstanding goalie and amazing student. I had the opportunity to introduce Sophie to Canada Women's National Ice Hockey Team goalie Genevieve Lacasse and pair them up for an inspiration session.
The hockey world is a small one and the impact a coach can make can stay with a person for a lifetime. In this case, the world has comes full circle, the irony is magnificent. Maybe someday Sophie Wolf will be an amazing teacher at a school, my child might attend.
Sports truly are about more than winning and losing. It's about the positive people like Steve that influence a 5 year old on a Saturday morning and inevitably shape their life for the next 28 years and counting.
...and thanks to all the Steve's out there.