Alas, my experience as an assistant coach of the Kitchener Wildcats has come to an end... and not without a high-stress, incredibly close, nail-biter of a final game. For that incredible effort, those kids deserved gold, but we'll have to settle for bronze. Even waking up at 6 am after less than 2 hours of sleep and semi-consciously speeding to Elora after missing my ride was worth it to see that win.
As much as I whined about the long drives and the often thankless effort on my part, I really did enjoy this experience. In retrospect, it was definitley worth it. I'm not sure that my presence on this team will have any lasting impact on these kid's lives, but they've certainly made a mark in mine.
Here's a copy of the speech I said at the appreciation dinner.
I've let Joe do most of the talking this season so I wanted to take this opportunity to share my experience coaching this team. I played ringette for 11 years and I'll never forget a coach who, at the end of the year during our appreciation dinner, would stand up and give this long-winded, hour-long speech about the team, going girl by girl and highlighting everything from unforgettable goals to unfair penalties to injuries. We all hated it. And ironically, when I sat down to write something about this team, I started doing the same thing. It's hard not to when you have such great memories about each player on this team. You'll all be pleased to know that I tossed that speech out the window and I promise to keep this short and sweet.
First let me just say what an incredible bunch of girls these are. I feel lucky to have had the privelege to get to know each of them over the past 8 months. It's pretty amazing to look back and remember what their first game was like after watching them win the bronze in that fantastic final game against Guelph on Sunday. I couldn't be more proud. This team had several first time players and huge variety of skill levels. I'll never forget the first game where I told one of the girls, "Okay, you're left wing" and she looked back at me with utter confusion and asked: "What's a wing?" It's been a really satisfying experience for me to watch this group of girls go from a disorganized bunch of skaters to a really sucessful ringette team.
One thing I noticed right away about this team is their sportsmanlike attitude which is incredibly admirable. There was never any animosity or fighting between the girls. They played as a team and helped each other do well and it paid off. They're a happy, energetic and genuinely nice group of girls that were never discouraged with a loss.
Having moved to Toronto mid-season for a job opportunity I really put this team in a tough position and I'd like to thank everyone for bearing with me in the last four months. Thanks to the moms that stood in for me when I couldn't make it, thanks to Frank for dealing with the paperwork and the administrative stuff and thanks to Joe and Jay for keeping me in the loop on tournaments and games. Thanks also to the girls for welcoming me back after a mysterious 4-week absence as I got my self settled in Toronto.
Being a part of this team has been an absolutley unforgettable experience. I wouldn't have made weekly trips from Toronto and gotten up at the crack of dawn to attend their games if I didn't totally love being there. Beleive me, there's not a lot of things in this world that can get me out of bed before 6:00 am. You've inspired me to seek out a Toronto local team and play again. As much as I loved being a coach, I think i'm a player at heart.
So thank you for this opportunity. It's been fun. Best of luck in your future ringette seasons!!