Sports Talk with Tyson: Minor hockey season has arrived once again

“I’m sure one of the hardest parts about being a coach has to be making cuts”

With another hockey season just around the corner, I figured it would be a good time to bring this column back from the grave and write down some thoughts.

Yes, Sports Talk with Tyson is still a thing. I just haven’t had much to write about sports-wise lately, so I’ve been focusing my writing skills on other areas of the newspaper.

With that quick little re-introduction done and dusted, let’s get down to the business at hand.

Last season was definitely one for the record books.

Pretty much all of the North Island minor hockey teams posted stellar records and really showed the rest of the island the level of talent that we are capable of producing up here.

The highlight for me was definitely the North Island Bantam Eagles earning silver medals at the BC Provincial Championships, which was somehow held in Port Hardy for the second time since 2015.

How we got to host the provincial championships twice in that short of a timespan I’ll never know, but I was quite honoured to be given the opportunity to cover an assignment that massive and challenging.

In what will probably be my defining moment as a journalist, I covered every single Eagles’ game from the tournament, while also making six, five minute long game highlight videos to go with it.

What was truly incredible was that I somehow managed to capture every single Eagles’ goal on camera.

That was not an easy task by any means, but anyone who knows me knows when I set my mind to something, I do it. I don’t let anything or anyone stop me. Never have and never will.

Anyways, while hockey season sure is an exciting time, it’s also a ton of work for the parents and volunteers that dedicate their efforts to making sure the games and practices run smoothly, so let’s give them a big round of applause. There’s far too many unsung heroes to point out specifically, so I won’t even go down that road in case I accidentally leave someone out.

With that little thank you out of the way, let’s talk coaches.

I’m sure one of the hardest parts about being a coach has to be releasing players.

This year’s midget Eagles’ coach Ryan Handley told me exactly that: “Releases are extremely tough on everyone. As coaches sitting there and looking a player in the eye and saying ‘I’m sorry, you haven’t made the team’ is something we don’t take lightly and it’s very painful because you create bonds and friendships with these kids over the years, but it’s also a part of the process and hopefully it fuels them for the future.”

So this goes out to any player that didn’t make the team this year, don’t let it discourage you.

If you love hockey, double down on it and do everything you can to become a better athlete.

Nothing is handed to you in life, you have to work hard for whatever you want.

Hopefully this little bit of information helps. Michael Jordan was once cut from his high school basketball team, and he went on to become the greatest basketball player of all time. Don’t even mention Lebron or Kobe to me.

Now then, I’ve been trying to think of a good way to end this piece, and I think a little storytime might be the best way to go.

I remember two seasons ago I travelled out to Port Alice to watch the North Island Bantam Eagles play either the Tier 1 or Tier 2 Comox Valley Chiefs.

It hadn’t been a very good regular season for the Eagles, as they had moved up to Tier 2 to challenge themselves before playoffs and hadn’t won a game yet.

The showdown against the Chiefs started off pretty well, but then the wheels fell off and they ended up getting hammered like 13-1, or something brutal like that.

Whenever a team loses that bad I never bother the coach afterwards for a comment on the game. It’s like rubbing salt in the wound.

To Ryan Handley’s credit though, he texted me after the game and still gave me his thoughts on why he thought his team got blown out.

All told, I think that’s a pretty great example of how to take ownership of a loss.

Losing is sadly a part of life, but victory wouldn’t taste so sweet without it.

Tyson Whitney is an award-winning journalist who was born and raised in Port Hardy. His family has lived in Port Hardy for more than 40 years. He graduated with a degree in writing from Vancouver Island University in 2008. Email: editor@northislandgazette.com

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