Brill a perfect fit behind the bench for Mission AZ
It’s not difficult to see the passion that Adam Brill has for youth hockey.
Just watching him working kids through a practice, or behind the bench during games, his love for the game shines through. He dedicates endless hours to the Mission AZ program nearly year-round, and wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t something truly fulfilling for him.
“Mission is a family in the true sense of the word,” Brill said. “I think the coaching philosophy is old-school, and the messaging we use throughout the program is consistent, which is really important. I’ve really had a terrific experience coaching in this program.”
Brill is in his fifth season coaching with Mission, and this year is serving as the head coach of the program’s Squirt 10U Red team and its Pee Wee 12U White squad as well as assisting with the Bantam AA group. He started as an in-house coach at the Peoria rink when his son, Mason – now a second-year Bantam – first got into hockey.
When Mason tried out to play for Mission, Brill was introduced to Mission director of hockey operations Jeremy Goltz and began assisting with a few teams and with the summer programs.
“’Briller’ has really taken on the challenge this season and is doing a great job developing squirts and our developmental Pee Wee group,” said Goltz. “He takes a lot of pride as a coach, and his passion speaks for itself.”
Brill realizes the importance of developing a foundation of skills in younger players, knowing how it pays off when they reach higher levels. That’s why he so invested in working with Squirts and Pee Wees to build that set of tools that will help them as they get older.
“I get to work with a pretty good cross section of age groups,” Brill said. “I think my favorite age groups are Squirts and Pee Wees. They’re coachable – they’re like little sponges. They’re absorbing information and learning, and their growth and development is at such a rapid pace at that age level that it’s really fun to see.
“They just pick stuff up quickly, and it seems like every practice they get a little bit better. You can really coach them and get them excited about the game.”
Brill knows that coaching Squirts and Pee Wees is vastly different than coaching Bantams. Younger kids are different physically and mentally than older kids, and thus the approach has to be different. While he focuses on fundamentals, he does so within the structure that Goltz has developed for the Mission program, so that his players are prepared when they move up a level.
“I have two main jobs as a coach with the younger players,” Brill said. “First, I want to make sure they’re developing a love and excitement for the game – we want them to not be able to wait to get back to the rink. The other part is to make sure we’re preparing them for the next level of hockey.
“I want to make sure that my Squirt players understand what the jump will be like to Pee Wees, particularly the second-year players. Jeremy and I share the belief that ‘true hockey’ starts at the Bantam level when you start to introduce contact and it’s a faster pace with bigger kids, so we have to prepare our Pee Wees properly so it’s a seamless transition into that level for them.”
Brill couldn’t be happier coaching with Mission, and that has more to do with how things are done there than it does with winning games and championship banners.
“I think the two things that really drew me to the program were the family atmosphere along with the old-school hockey tradition, and the consistency from age group to age group,” he said. “I think that’s in the best interests of the players and the program.”
— Greg Ball
(Nov. 30, 2017)