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Dusting off the Skates: A Blugold’s Return to Hockey

| Elliot Adams

Photo caption: Jack Frederick making in game adjustments for the Memorial High JV Hockey Team.

It’s not often when work and play combine, but for Jack Frederick, a second year Blugold from Mankato, Minnesota, that’s exactly what happened when he combined his childhood passion for hockey with Service-Learning. Frederick, who’s a Psychology major and Science of Coaching minor, jumped at the opportunity to be the Eau Claire Memorial JV assistant coach. 

“It’s something that I am passionate about. I love coaching. I love helping younger players grow and develop,” Frederick said, “I know that coaches were very important in my life and I’ve always thought that if I could be a coach it would be important in other kids’ lives.”

To prepare for his role as assistant coach, Frederick would meet with the coaching staff and meticulously study the playbooks and film.

“Initially it was several meetings with the coaches. We’d meet several times and talk about how the season was going to go, how I’d help the players grow and enjoy their experience, and my roles and responsibilities as a coach.” 

While the players were thinking in terms of wins and losses, Frederick emphasized that his role wasn’t to help the team win rather it was to develop the player’s skills and be a positive influence. 

“My role was less about helping the team win and more about being an extra set of eyes,” he said, “being a ‘hockey’ mind, and being someone the kids enjoyed being around because I was closer to their age. You could say I was the ‘fun’ coach but also just someone who wanted to help the program grow and develop.”

Frederick also talked about how he’d work with the players to develop their technical skills such as their stick handling ability, passing technique, and skating ability. To improve his relationships and build trust with the players, Frederick would also invest time in getting to know each player individually; their strengths, their weaknesses, and how they could best make an impact on the ice. This dedication not only allowed him to hone on his coaching skills but it paid off at the end of the season when multiple players expressed their disappointment that they’d have to wait over six months for the next season to see their coach again.  

While Service-Learning projects only require a total of 30 hours, Frederick went above and beyond, putting in an average of twenty hours a week over the course of the season. 

“It wasn’t like I’m doing this for 30 hours and then I’m done” he said, “it was more like, I’m doing this, it’s counting for Service-Learning but I’m enjoying what I’m doing, making an impact, and it made all the time I spent worth it.”

Frederick said the relationships he made, being able to get back into a sport he played as a child, and being a good influence for the young players were the most rewarding part of his experience. 

While most Service-Learning projects tend to be one-off, Frederick plans on building on his experience by returning to the team next season. He says he’s been grateful for the opportunity to fulfill a graduation requirement and find a way to use his passion for the sport of hockey to make a meaningful impact in his community.