RED DEER - Hockey Alberta’s March Coaches of the Month, sponsored by Players Bench Team Apparel, are Dave Eggleston of Stettler and Mike Lees of KC St. Matthew in Edmonton.
Both coaches were selected from all of the Coach of the Month applications received by Hockey Alberta throughout the 2019-20 Minor Hockey season. Dave and Mike will receive a coach prize pack courtesy of Players Bench, along with a pair of tickets to see the Calgary Flames or Edmonton Oilers, once the NHL resumes play.
Dave Eggleston is an assistant coach with the Stettler Storm Mites, Atom Female, and Peewee Female teams. He has been coaching for two years and also coaches minor female softball and tyke lacrosse during the summer months.
"Dave is one of those coaches that every team needs. He only started coaching in the last couple of years, but he has jumped in with both feet and doesn’t miss a single ice session," said the fellow coach who nominated Dave. "His commitment is second to none, but that isn’t even the biggest reason why he deserves this award. Dave’s positive attitude with all the players at each level is just amazing. Win, lose, or draw, Dave was always encouraging the players and putting smiles on their face regardless of the situation."
Dave says that his favourite part of coaching is creating bonds with the kids throughout the course of the season. To him, it’s not so much about winning as it is having fun. He enjoys laughing and joking with the players and showing his support for them, no matter what is happening on the ice.
"My coaching philosophy is to lead by example," said Dave. "If I ask something of them, on or off the ice, I want to show that I can do it too."
Mike Lees is the Head Coach of the KC St. Matthew Thunder Novice team and was an assistant with their Timbits program. This past season was his ninth year of coaching hockey in Edmonton. He has also coached little league softball, volleyball, and soccer in previous years.
"Coach Mike has been an amazing coach this entire season; it has been awesome to watch the team’s skills take off," said the parent who nominated Mike. "He makes practices so fun that the kids probably don’t even realize the skills that they are learning."
It was a particularly tough season for the Novice Thunder off the ice, as one of their team members, Nate, passed away.
"While Nate was sick, Coach Mike (and his wife Kristina) encouraged the whole team to come together. He also encouraged those who were able to attend the funeral, where they attended as a team and Coach Mike spoke."
"As Head Coach for the KC St. Matthew Thunder Novice team, Mike Lees went above and beyond what could have been expected. Mike made a difference for every player on this team. He navigated the difficult circumstances this team encountered with class and compassion," said KC St. Matthew President Andrew Westervelt.
Mike enjoys building the lasting relationships with the players that are created through coaching. He likes to build confidence in the athletes and help them see themselves in a positive light, where every member of the team has value, regardless of strengths and weaknesses.
"My personal coaching philosophy is that if you give your athletes respect and treat them each as important players, essential to achieving a common goal, your athletes will give you everything in return," said Mike. "I take time to go around the room and have a brief personal interaction with each athlete. This interaction lets each player know that their presence is important to me and that I am interested in them. In turn, when we step on the ice, each player is personally engaged in the lessons we implement as a coaching staff."
The Coach of the Month award is presented every month during the Minor Hockey season, based on nominations submitted to Hockey Alberta.