Gary Sage’s love for coaching hockey started early. In his 20s it was helping out his friends’ teams but after having kids it became so much more. He wanted to give back to the community and the sport he loves.
Today Gary Sage is the program director of the Eastern Ontario Klevr Young Kings and one of the coaches. Why he loves hockey comes down to the team aspect.
“All your team members [need] to be pulling on the same rope” explains Sage. “Your goalie, defence and your forward all have to work together and you win as a team and lose as a team”
Through his son playing hockey, Gary got to know Jamie Stone and Kris Versteeg who had aspirations of starting the Klevr Super League and asked him if he would be interested in being a part of it. From there he became a chartered member, started a program and now has 7 teams playing in the KSL.
Over the years of coaching he has developed his own style. His organization focuses on providing the players with skills they will need in life and making sure there is always a good culture throughout the team.
“We try to focus on providing the kids with a positive environment, trying to teach them respect and discipline. Some of the traits they are going to need as they move on in life.” Sage said.
Sage also stresses the importance of motivating the kids and teaching them qualities they can bring back with them to school.
“Always pushing the kids to try to be better every time they step on the ice, teach them how to be good teammates, how to be leaders [and] all the good qualities of young athletes in sports… and be leaders for their peers”.
The importance of building good culture around the team is very important to Sage. It is one of the many reasons he loves coaching hockey.
“The biggest thing is seeing the players improve, build self-confidence, believing in themselves, watching them come to the rink everyday with smiles on their faces, trusting each other and building those relationships with their teammates and coaches”.
Motivation is an essential part of coaching and everyone has a different approach to keeping players engaged. Sage explained that having an overall good culture around the team is important to keeping everyone motivated. Him and the rest of the coaching staff focus on lots of positive feedback and constructive criticism.
We could see all of this in action during the KSL Season Opener which Gary Sage’s Tier 1 2016 team won.
“[The] tournament was awesome…a very good experience for all our players, and all our parents, and all our coaches. Everybody had great things to say about the entire weekend and to top it all off we ended up winning so that made it even more special.”
Although the tournament ended up going great there were some obstacles along the way. During the last game the team was losing by 2 goals going into the last period. The big turning point was when their goalie made a big save for them and they were able to go back and score. From here they carried the momentum, tied it up and won in overtime.
“The kids had to face some adversity, they had to keep battling and stick to the game plan and eventually it payed off”
Sage wants his team to be remembered for their hard work and determination. He wants their players to always be respectful to other teams, to referees and to coaches.
“The KSL will be strong because of the quality of character of its people. Gary is a perfect example of the [type of person] we want in our league” stated Jamie Stone, commissioner of the Klevr Super League.
Gary and the Eastern Ontario Young Kings are working hard to prepare for the next event, Klevr Halloween Havoc scheduled to take place October 27-29th in Toronto. Good Luck EO Young Kings and thank you Gary!