Sunday, October 23, 2011

From Player to Coach

Yesterday, my roommates (Courtney Bradley and Jessica Jenkins) and I traveled with the Neuberg Highlanders second team on the bus to Linz.  The second team, which has players aging from eight to 14, had a game against Ice Cats Linz at 8:30 p.m., or 20.30 is what they say in Austria.  Neither the head coach nor the trainer could attend the game due to prior responsibilities, so our team manager suggested that my roommates and I play coach for a night.  Jenkins was in charge of the defensive line-up while I coached the offensive lines.  Bradley was proudly named "door girl," as she opened and closed the door for the players entering and leaving the ice surface.  She seemed very intent on doing her job as Jenkins and I laughed at how focused she was at opening and closing the door.

Coaching the young Highlanders was difficult since most of them haven't learned a great deal of English in school yet.  I did not know how to say "good job" in German, so I hope my little pats on the girls' shoulders and heads let them know that I thought they were playing well.  Well, Jenkins and I actually knew barely any other ice hockey phrases in German to tell you the truth.  The lack of communication definitely proved to factor into our coaching ability.  I was able to speak with the captain of the team because she knew English.  If I had something to say to the team such as "take shorter shifts," I would go to her and tell her to talk to the team for me.

For the first two periods, we rolled three sets of lines.  After completing the first period with a 1-0 lead, we decided to keep the lines the same for the second period.  After Linz tied the game, 1-1, in the second period, I decided to just play two sets of lines in the third.  We changed the lines up and it like a promising decision before the third period started.  In the third period, Linz took a 2-1 lead and a sense of nervous came over me wondering if I made the right decision.  I seemed responsible for this change in the line-up.  However, the girls did not seem deflated after Linz scored.  They picked up momentum and scored two goals, taking a 3-2 lead.  This eased my nervousness.  With 0.2 seconds left in the game, 12-year-old Jennifer Pesendorfer put the cherry on top and scored the final goal of the game.  The rest of the "coaches" and I gave each other high-fives for our success in the 5-2 victory.

photo courtesy of Hartmut Marchl


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