Gibson, Roe add expertise to Mission AZ coaching staff
Behind every great youth hockey program is a group of standout coaches, and while the head coaches often get most of the attention, it’s often the specialists that are the keys to a program’s success.
That’s certainly true with the Mission AZ program, where goaltending coach Larry Gibson and power skating coach Crystal Roe have become integral members of the coaching staff.
“Larry has been with us for years and has been a great resource and liaison to our tenders for a long time,” said Jeremy Goltz, Mission AZ’s director of hockey operations. “He brings a calming effect when things get hectic with practices, games and travel.
“Crystal has brought a great level of expertise to the most important aspect of our great game. She brings great energy and has earned a lot of respect from players and coaches throughout our organization.”
Because time is limited on the ice and head coaches and their assistants spend much of their time working on team drills, strategy and skill development, it’s easy for the specialized teaching of goalie skills and proper skating technique to get neglected. So Goltz knew that bringing in Gibson and Roe would be an important step in helping Mission’s players develop into the best hockey players they could be.
Gibson has been with Mission AZ since 2009 and has extensive coaching experience. A member of Northern Arizona University’s club hockey team from 1979-83, he has been the USA Hockey coaching coordinator for Arizona since 1990 and was recently appointed the organization’s goalie development coordinator for the state. He has coached at nearly every level in Arizona, including a seven-year stint as the goalie coach for Arizona State’s club team.
He said he loves that Mission is a great organization because of the philosophy that comes from the top down.
“Jeremy expects discipline and structure with his kids, which I like a lot,” said Gibson, who works with all of Mission’s teams and aims to be with each squad 3-4 times a month.
“It’s good to have that specialized coach for goalies so they are getting the proper development just like the forwards and defensemen. I strive to have my goalies be prepared and competing for every shot – not only does it help the goalies, but it helps make the shooters better, too.”
Gibson has coached hundreds of players throughout his career and is proud to have contributed to a number of those moving on to the junior and college hockey ranks. His daughter, Kaley, played for Division III St. Norbert College in Wisconsin, and Anthony Ciurro is a Mission alumnus currently playing for the Victoria Cougars in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League.
Roe has 16 years’ coaching experience and is in her third season coaching with Mission. A former competitive figure skater with two U.S. Figure Skating gold medals on her resume, she works regularly with both figure skaters and hockey players. In addition to her work with Mission AZ, Roe also teaches private lessons and has worked with players throughout the Phoenix area, a number of whom have advanced to play college and junior hockey.
No matter the age or level, Roe emphasizes a number of basics. She said she appreciates the trust put in her to work with Mission’s players.
“I focus on the fundamentals such as basic skating skills and applying proper body technique to the players’ movements,” Roe said. “The key building blocks for a strong player are keeping low by emphasizing hip bend, knee bend and ankle bend, while shoulders are up, pulled back and head up.
“I emphasize that bigger and louder equals power. The bigger or longer the push with edge pressure produces loud edges, which then creates power. The longer blades are on the ice, the longer the strides and the more ice you cover with minimal steps.”
— Greg Ball