With life moving so quickly these days as the world comes out of the pandemic, it has become a challenge for many sports organizations to find people to help coach.
For hockey, COVID-19 has impacted registration levels in various age groups. For instance, in the U16-U18 age category there are no teams between AAA and house league this season.
Also, coaches have not been easy to find as many have found other things to do with their time since most of the 2020-21 season was written off due to strict COVID-19 policies which led to rink shutdowns from January 2021 until late July in North Bay.
However, through those challenges of COVID-19 came some positives. A few young coaches have stepped forward and offered their time to support the game they love.
At the U12 AAA level, Tyler Miller has taken on the job of head coach with the hockey team. He has brought on some young assistants as well which includes former Powassan Voodoos standout defenceman Eric Mondoux, who at 21, is still coaching while attending Nipissing University.
At the U14 AAA level, former Skyhawks star Justin Roy, 34, is behind the bench with Matt Blanchard, son of longtime coach Guy Blanchard, and 25-year-old former Battalion star Zach Bratina.
At the U15 AAA Trappers level, longtime head coach Scott Huycke has acquired the help of 20-year-old Ryan Mills and 21-year-old Nick Davis. The two skilled forwards who developed through the North Bay Minor Hockey Association and the North Bay & District Trappers AAA Association, both are working on apprenticeships in the trades but are giving back as well while learning from the veteran bench boss Huycke.
Huycke's son Justin, 33, has a young family but has been a dedicated assistant to his father over the years.
At the U18 AAA Trappers level, 30-year-old's Adam Marceau and Peter Easton have made the commitment to be assistant coaches to bench boss Bill McMillan and Doug Sanders. Marceau and Easton have played the game all their lives in North Bay and they both enjoy the new challenge.
This long list of new hockey coaches is great to see and a great example for all sports in North Bay. Having former players come back and coach is the only way these sports can continue to grow.
Many locally in the hockey world hope it is a sign of more good things to come and maybe more young athletes will remember how much organized sports locally meant to them and decide to give back as well.