MANCHESTER, NH — On any given Saturday — and there have been many this season — you will find the Manchester Central Boys Ice Hockey team getting together for a team breakfast at the Quill restaurant at Southern NH University.
First, the boys most enjoy the incredible “all you can eat buffet” of blueberry muffins, bagels, fruits, scrambled eggs, home fries, bacon, sausage, french toast, and crepes all made and served by the students of the SNHU culinary program.
I always start the breakfast at 10 a.m., especially if we are playing that afternoon, because it allows them to sleep-in after a long week of academics and hockey and, second, these boys can eat, so I make sure we have enough time to digest the food.
After breakfast we proceed to an adjacent classroom where we arrange the desks and chairs in a square so there is eye-to-eye contact for all players and coaches.
This is where the “real” coaching begins. This is what I call “Coaching Life Lessons.” This is what it’s all about!
We live in a broken world with many challenges that directly relate to sport and team, so I take time to emphasize the importance of “core values.”
I give one player a topic, usually a senior, to define, discuss and share his experience about the topic in front of his teammates, in both sport and life. This season we have discussed respect, character, integrity, commitment, perseverance, accountability, and excellence.
I also invite fellow Coaches Jason Allen (Central High Boys Track, Cross Country) and Mark Shafer (Campbell High Football) who are also my brothers in the Fellowship of Christian Athlete organization, to share their experiences, strength and hope as it pertains to the topic of the day.
When we coaches are communicating to these boys our “real life” experiences, humbly sharing our failures and successes, you can hear a pin drop. We share how we have overcome our challenges, on a daily basis, through the grace of God, so maybe one of these boys will not have to go down that dark road.
I emphasize and tell the boys if there is anything you take away from playing hockey at Central High, to remember that there are two things you can control in life: effort and attitude. You can wake up every day with the best attitude and give the best effort.
I share with them that God gave me this gift, to be their coach, and I am compelled to share with them who actually gives us everything, and I inform them who sacrificed everything so we could have eternal life. It may be the only time they hear it, but they need to hear it.
Our game plan doesn’t change. Before each game one of the players will pray that we play hard, play fair and play for the Glory of God win or lose. What better lesson is there to learn?
Happy Easter and God Bless.
Coach Brian C. Stone is a lifelong hockey player, a 2002 Queen City Hall of fame inductee, and was a stand-out player for Central High School where he currently serves as hockey coach.
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