From The Gazette

Pointe-Claire

With the Coach: Sarah James

  • Sarah James on the ice during a practice with her bantam B girls hockey team.
    Sarah James on the ice during a practice with her bantam B girls hockey team.
    Photo credit: Marie-France Coallier, The Gazette

With the Coach is a weekly series featuring a conversation with a local coach.

Coach: Sarah James, 24-yearold Pointe-Claire daycare educator
Team: Hockey West Island bantam BF Royals
Years coaching: 10
Playing experience: Junior A
Best coaching tip: Have patience. Know your team.

Sarah James, who began coaching hockey at age 14, has been behind the bench for about a decade now. Although she stopped playing hockey at age 21, she stuck to coaching, saying she loved it more.

How did you get into coaching?

James: My dad was a convener of girls hockey at the time and I always loved teaching. He asked if I want to coach and I said, “Sure.” I was an assistant coach my first year, atom B, I believe. When I was 15, I got my own team and it was atom, too. I found it to be very rewarding being a head coach at a young age. The girls listened because I wasn’t an older person. It still works today because I am a young adult teaching, coaching them, they kind of respect me more. I know what it’s like being at that age. I can relate to them a lot more.

Your coaching philosophy?

James: The No. 1 thing is to always have fun, even at practices. Everything I do is fun for the girls. Also, I try to get drills to improve what they are missing. For girls hockey, you really have to listen to your team.

Take us through a typical bantam practice.

James: Every practice I do 10 minutes of crossovers. You can be the best skater but you have to keep on crossovering. I always do suicides drills. Even if it’s for fun. I have girls in junior that I use to coach who tell me they miss the suicides. It’s not punishment to them. It’s a normal practice thing so they know they have to do it. With girls hockey, it’s mostly working on shooting and teaching them how to do a quick shot and rush the net. To not be scared to stand in from of the net and if the shot comes at you, take it or duck, but don’t be scared.

Best part of coaching?

James: Having the reaction of the girls after they did a move I taught them or they scored their first goal. Or, they did what I said to do and they come to me with a huge smile on their face. I’m thrilled teaching them something and they recognize it and they come to me and say they did it. Even at bantam they still do it, and I love that feeling.

Hardest part of coaching?

James: I don’t really know if there is a tough part in hockey. I really enjoy every aspect of it.

Your mission/goal this year?

James: We had a lot of new players coming from ringette and some from Lakeshore who wanted to play on my team, so it was really trying to get them to come together as a team.

What is key to inspiring players?

James: They really have to trust the coach to get inspired. I know when I give my opinion to my players, they actually take it and work on it. The girls really trust me and I’ve gained their trust also. They know I’m saying it because I want them to improve.

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