FARGO – Fargo Angels Hockey Board president Mike Gallagher was tired of going to funerals for hockey players.
"I know a lot of young men, four of them in the last six years, that played hockey, graduated from high school and committed suicide," Gallagher said. "I was at a funeral recently and a friend said to me, 'I know seven guys that committed suicide before they were 50 years old.' These kids were successful. For some reason, they didn't learn how to deal with defeat or a downturn in their life. We want to make sure we're doing everything we can to make sure these kids are getting educated and learning lessons from hockey beyond wins and losses."
The president of the youth hockey group for Fargo-Moorhead area Christian schools decided to do something about it, teaming up with the Positive Coaching Alliance-a non-profit organization for youth and high school athletes-to bring two workshops to the area.
"What it focuses on is how coaches can get the most out of players from the mental aspect," Gallagher said. "Filling up their emotional tank and teaching players how to deal with mistakes. We learn from mistakes and move on. It also educates parents as to the job and role of the coach and what the coach is trying to do and what the parent can do to support that from the bleachers, the drive home and how we deal with success and failure."
The Fargo Angels coaches were required to go through a 90-minute workshop title "Double-Goal Coach: Coaching for Winning and Life Lessons" Oct. 11. The parents went through a required 45-minute workshop titled "The Second-Goal Parent Talk: Tips and Tools to Develop Winners in Life Through Sports" on Sunday. Both were at the Dakota Medical Foundation Event Center and only for Fargo Angles Hockey coaches and parents.
Troy Pearson played and coached college basketball and is currently a youth clinician for the Minnesota Timberwolves. He spoke on Sunday to parents.
"I grew up in a coach's home who modeled a lot of these good principles," Pearson said. "My experiences having coaches who should not have been coaching because they didn't like people and had tempers showed me that I wanted to be part of something that teaches, parents and youth that there are other options besides winning at all cost. We try to focus on helping them teach young people to honor the game."
Although the workshops were closed, Gallagher hopes the use of the workshops spreads throughout the area for youth hockey.
"The bottom line is we realize that youth sports have some issues and hockey, in particular, gets a bad rap," Gallagher said. "We're trying to do our part here in Fargo Angels to do the best we can to make sure our coaches and parents are on the same page when it comes to values and virtues that we are trying to teach our youth athletes. There's a lot of positives we get from competing in sports. It's not just wins, ribbons and trophies. We are trying to encourage other organizations in the area to consider these workshops."