The two Legion 86’s
hockey teams that are being inducted tonight had it all.
First of all, they had the
“Ultimate Coaches”. Head Coach Brian Brown was always
prepared, he studied his opposition to find out their
weaknesses and always had a game plan. His preparation for
each practice or game produced positive results and the
teams alway found a way to persevere even in the face of
helped his players understand the sacrifices and the work
ethic needed to succeed both as athletes and as people.
With his “controlled intensity” style of coaching, winning
became habit forming because of high level practicing and
attention to detail. Brian encouraged players to always do
their best and all players were allowed to contribute and
compete to the best of their ability. All of Brian’s
players appreciated his passion for their sport, his
patience and his consistency in the way he dealt with them.
Assistant Coach Scott Hucal was the “ultimate fitness co-ordinator”.
Scott was a young fellow with a hockey background and he
provided a positive role model for the players. Scott was
in charge of conditioning and at the end of every practice
he put the players through his grueling “gut busters”.
Secondly, the team had the
“Ultimate Manager”. Bob Hartnell was, according to some of
his players, “ahead of his time”. He made sure that both
teams were always challenged so that they could improve. He
arranged exhibition games against highly ranked teams,
sometimes with teams that played at a higher level. He also
entered them in as many tournaments as they could handle.
Besides looking after all of the arrangements, he also
provided guidance to the players concerning work ethic and
off ice behavior.
Thirdly, the team had the
“Ultimate Parents”. Because coach Brown communicated his
expectations to the parents he was able to get everyone to
“buy into” the team philosophy and build a foundation of
trust. Many parents attended the games, traveled to
tournaments and provided positive encouragement to the
team. Even the players felt that their parent support was
by far the best of any of the opposing teams. The parent
group was close, they cheered together and they partied
together. Like most hockey parents, attending hockey games
was their social outlet so when their sons were finished
their time on the 86‘s and had moved on to the next level,
it meant they weren’t getting together on a regular basis.
Many of the parents are in the audience tonight renewing old
friendships and memories.
the 86’s had the “Ultimate Fan”. Because the Wetaskiwin
Legion were the sponsors, Chuck Wood, Legion Sports
Director, attended every game, home and away. He always
wore his Legion uniform and was one of the teams biggest
supporters. Chuck is in attendance this evening, a quarter
of a century later and he’s still cheering them on. the
players would like to recognize him.
And last of all the players.
Although each team had it’s own dynamics, many things were
constant. Both teams played with tenacity and “heart”,
often outlasting their opposition to win. Most important,
they played as a team, there were no individual egos that
were catered to, they won as a team and they lost as a
team. However, remember they were 14 and 15 year old boys
so we can only imagine the shenanigans or mischief that
would have occurred away from the hockey ice. They were
league champions and Provincial Champions both
years........and all coaches and players know how difficult
it is to “repeat”.
The common thread through all
of these “Ultimate” elements is respect. The coach and
manager respected the players and their parents and the
players respected the adults who guided them. Even today,
the players address and refer to Brian as “Coach Brown” or
Mr Brown. All involved learned “life lessons” through
their experiences together.
There is something unique
about winning as a team. No matter what happens in life, it
is a bond that you and your team-mates will always share,
something you accomplished together, you’ll always have the
memories and friendships. To the kids in the audience who
are here to share this celebration....remember this night,
your dads achieved something pretty cool, it’s quite an
honor to be recognized by your community. As you grow older
you’ll realize that although winning is important and it’s
the reason the teams are being recognized tonight, more
important is what is gained in life because of the win!
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