Dan Sauve is the Head Coach and General Manager of the newly relocated CCHL Rockland Nationals Jr A hockey club. Growing up, Dan was all hockey! From the age of three he started skating and played competitively in the Cumberland system, and In the summer months played AAA with travelling teams.
Dan adds, " I played several others sports in a more casual way like tennis, golf and squash. After a short stint in major junior with the Gatineau Olympiques, I decided to return to the Jr A ranks and focus on school. Once I finished Junior hockey, I played a year semi-pro but quickly realized that I wanted to keep studying and pursue other goals".
Dan says it's difficult to say what he likes about coaching Hockey the most. "There are so many parts of coaching that I am passionate about. I would have to say that my favourite part of coaching is seeing the day-to-day progression of players that are really eager to learn and to improve their game. There is nothing more satisfying than working with a player or a group of players and seeing them develop under your very nose. Seeing players ask questions, incorporating new elements into their game, getting outside their comfort zone, improving on their bad habits, buying in and being open-minded… those are the day-to-day things that make coaching the best job in the world.
Dan reminisces on one of his most rewarding moments as a coach, and describes the first game that was played in Gloucester last season after the team was sold. "It was my first game as a Head Coach and we had only practiced once. The feeling and the energy the players showed that night will be something I will never forget. The team had only one win in their first 10 games before that night and we ended up winning that first game against a very good opponent. It was a win that was fully attributed to raw emotion, passion for the game of hockey, and a rejuvenated moral. Seeing the look on those players faces and knowing that things were turning around is what made it rewarding for me. It motivated me to put in the work all season long because I didn’t want to let this group down. Coaching is full of rewarding moments as long as you take the time to recognize them".
One of Dan's toughest challenges so far in his short-lived career as the head coach of the Rockland Nationals was starting the season without any support staff. New owners bought the Rockland Nationals in early October and that’s when Dan was offered the opportunity to be a head coach of the team. "When I first started, Dan explains, I was the only person on the entire coaching or scouting staff. This was a big change from my previous coaching experience and it was quite difficult for one person to provide the proper coaching to 23 players. It just can’t be done, no matter how good of a coach you think you may be. Kids need attention, they need feedback, they need discipline, they need someone to guide them. Having a quality support staff in essential to running a great program. In order to overcome these obstacles, Dan had to put a lot of hours in at the rink, but his objective was to take his time with selecting the staff and make sure he had the right people in place. "It was important for me to surround myself with the right type of people instead of panicking and hiring just about anyone who showed interest. It was a tough first month and I had lots of help from good friends in the hockey community as well as our U18 coaches who all lent a hand for practices and games. Dan and the Rockland Nationals ended up hiring an assistant coach in early November and another in December. The rest is history. By the time the Nationals entered the 2017 Training Camp in Rockland, the staff was comprised of over a dozen coaches and scouts and continued adding new staff members throughout the summer.
Like other sports, Hockey teaches many lessons that can be applied to other aspects of ones life. Through coaching, Dan explains, he's learned that winning and succeeding is a result and not an objective. There are many terrific coaches and great teams out there that never get the chance to win. Only one team can win every year. It is usually a combination of several things that make a team win and, unfortunately, luck can play a big factor. If winning is your objective, you will be disappointed when you lose. Therefore, as a coach, you must focus on the journey and overcoming obstacles with your players. If you focus on winning, your motivation and confidence can take a hit when you lose. If you focus on the process and doing things the right way, losing motivates you to push yourself. Embracing challenges and enjoying every day of the journey is what I try to value and encourage my players with. Obstacles are part of the process and they should not defeat you; they should push you to persevere. This way of thinking definitely applies to all aspects of my life including my job, my relationships, my hobbies and my goals.
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