MISSION STATEMENT: Take crucial steps to create leaders, on and off the ice
A total of 13 former Mission Arizona players are now in leadership roles at the next levels with Manny Rowe (Syracuse Stampede/North American 3 Eastern Hockey League), Taylor Knight (Aspen Leafs/Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League), Cory Briody (Northern Arizona University ACHA D-II) and the trio of Chris Eades, Steven Taylor and Trey Gonzalez (NAU ACHA D-III) all donning letters this season as new captains of college and junior teams.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that so many great leaders are being developed here and I want to share with you how some of these young men have developed into leaders. I believe this process is an important one to create not only complete hockey players, but young men and women.
Constant meetings and communication
After practices and especially on road trips, we constantly have group meeting where players are forced to not only communicate about their own experiences and on-ice play, but they are also forced to share opinions of others in an effort to get players and teammates all on the same page. It helps players really think at another level, why they are playing, what it means to them, and how to motivate other players who might be struggling. It truly brings out a deeper and more thoughtful player. They are forced to get to know themselves and how to navigate tough conversations with teammates.
Talk to younger teams
Weekly, I will pull in older kids to talk to younger groups after practices or big group meetings when teams travel together and give the older kids a voice, as well as let the younger kids find a voice in front of sometimes 40 older kids. Once again, it’s forcing thought, introspection, and getting them used to not only talking in front of a group as mentor, but also building confidence and pride in themselves to be a good example for so many younger kids. They want to become examples and role models to these younger kids and it forces them to be better.
For years, our players have participated in charities and events to help mentor younger players and causes. This gives them a worldly perspective and appreciation where they are and how lucky they are on and off the ice.
At Bantams, our process starts of “weeding” the parents out of the players’ equation. It is now at a level where the game and accountability starts to be their own. We really take it to the next step at 16 where all communication now comes from the players to the coaches. They travel as a team and work through situations on the road with no parent involvement. They become self-reliant and show how to be accountable for themselves and teammates. It is hard for parents to take a back seat, but when the process is over, they see a major difference. This process is difficult to manage and maintain the integrity of as some folks have a difficult time letting go, but the results are worth fighting for.
I am extremely proud to see so many players develop into great leaders and young men, and I truly believe it is just another asset that this great game can teach young players to help them prepare for their next stage in life. I have to say that I don’t agree with the old cliché that people are just born leaders, but they have to be directed in a way to facilitate this quality. I am very proud to see so many applying these concepts.
Jeremy Goltz is the program director for Mission Arizona.