OMHA Coach of the Month for February!, News (Orono Amateur Athletic Association)

News Article
News Article Image
Mar 26, 2023 | Jeff Caplan | 407 views
OMHA Coach of the Month for February!
The OAAA is proud to congratulate Coach James Coatham on being awarded the OMHA Coach of the Month for February!

Coach James is the head coach of Orono's U7-8 and U9-3 teams in Orono.

Anyone who has had a child play for Coach James will know how passionate and dedicated he is to his players.  Please have a read of the OMHA article and to Coach James, the OAAA congratulate and thank you for an exceptional job!

Here is the article from

OMHA Coach of the Month  - February

We are excited to reveal the final Coach of the Month for this season! Coaches
are an invaluable part of the minor hockey experience and help share a love of
the game with thousands of players across the province.

This season marks the sixth year of the OMHA Coach of the Month presented
by The Coaches Site. We asked for nominations of deserving coaches and after
much deliberation, James Coatham of the Orono U9 Team 3 and U7 Team 8
teams was selected as the Coach of the Month for February.

Here's his story as told by his nomination:

James has gone above and beyond coaching duties again this year. He Head
Coaches two teams the U7 and U9 out of Orono. He is always prepared with two
different practice plans and game strategies a week, and is on the ice with the
kids at least four days a week, sometimes six depending on ice time. As a coach
he exemplifies what a good coach is: caring, positive, enthusiastic. He puts
learning and development first and foremost with the kids and above all
continually emphasizes "the number one rule of hockey? Have FUN".

But, just being a great coach on the ice for two teams isn't what makes him a
stand out for coach of the month. His off ice contributions this year were well
above and beyond. There are weekly email reminders to parents on ice-times
and open communication on strategy and importance of development. He
coordinated name-bars for all the players on both teams.

The U7 team had the opportunity to skate during the Oshawa Generals Game
intermission, all because of James' initiative and coordination. The U9 team
was able to attend the Oshawa Generals game at a reduced rate because of
James too. Just last week the U9 team participated in a tournament in
Cobourg, giving these young players their first exposure to tournaments
and what a fantastic experience for them.

If that isn't enough James has been writing content all season for the Orono
Amateur Athletic Association. Most recently, he's instilled a sense of responsibility
with the U9s by inviting them to come and help coach the U7s during practice.

Coach James started his love of hockey as a kid playing ball hockey in the
driveway in Orono. He never got to play organized hockey, but always wished
he could. Hockey was a passion, from recording players in-game numbers as a
kid, to playing hockey with his uncle in the driveway.

He started as a trainer with his first born, then progressed to coaching. His first
year of coaching sealed the deal and he loved seeing the kids growth on ice and
love of the game. When his oldest's skill put him towards the Representative end
of hockey and above his skill level, James shifted towards coaching his other two
children when they entered into U7. Fast forward to today and he still finds
himself coaching both of their teams (U7 and U9) in the local league with Orono. 


My practice planning begins in the summer, oddly enough. Since I have never
played hockey myself, I needed to find resources where I could learn. There are
a multitude of online options you can use to find drills from Hockey Canada's
links, Youtube, to Instagram. Planning a practice for either the U7 or U9 teams
requires that you invest some time and thought. I will spend the summer/
beginning of the season mapping out a google drive with a load of drills I want
to do through the year. From the beginning of the season I take part in the
evaluations in whatever way possible, and once my team is sent to me I will
run my own self evaluation. Identifying the players who need more skating help
to those that are top tier who will need to be pushed so they don’t get bored.
Incorporating drills that can do both is important. With the varying skill levels
you also need to remember to have a back up plan, not every drill will work and
you may need to audible into another. Always remember to follow the #1 rule of
all my hockey teams “Have Fun”.


I started coaching at the beginning of the Half Ice program's inception. I dove
head first into the program myself, I had seen from the previous year as a
trainer that on full ice some kids don't touch the puck and I saw some quit
because of it. Improving on the level of fun to make sure that I never lost a
single kid from the hockey program was a goal of mine. When I make a practice
plan I take full advantage of all available ice, using as many helpers as I can; be
they older players or parents. With 3 drills going I can have anywhere from
3 - 6 kids doing something at once, meaning very little down time where the kids
are sitting waiting. As an example one of the practices had: Cat and Mouse with a
net in one circle, transition circle on the other circle while at center ice kids work
on skating pulling coaches. Challenging them to pull bigger kids in horses and
buggies or just simply being silly and having a fun tug of war. Using bigger kids
allows the younger ones to be excited to participate and emulate them. 

Practice planning with the older kids in U9 can be more difficult incorporating fun
asthey become more engaged in the games and the process of wins and losses.
But similarly to the U7s I will make sure to have 2-3 drills going. Older kids take
happiness from acquiring skills and getting better and visually seeing their own
improvements. Drills need to be unique and progress the kids through a series
of skills. An example of a U9 set of drills: Goaltender training happening between
icing line and boards working on his skating. 4-5 players Per group at three
stations. Puck carry and pass around one circle, the other half of the zone has a
mirror drill where players will work to copy movements of players skating
towards them, lastly in the neutral zone has a race around nets 1v1. The kids
stay engaged the whole time and work many different skills. 


The love of the game for young kids is one of the most important things to me.
I never wanted to lose any kids out of the program due to not having fun. I
wanted them to enjoy hockey for what it is, a game. Hockey should never feel
like work at this age, the kids are there to have fun. They spend their entire
days at school learning and exhausting their brain power and patience; They
just need to have a place to unwind and enjoy. During this season we had the
opportunity to join our two teams for some fun practices where my U9 team
came in to work with the U7s. Each kid on that U9 team was full of joy as they
helped kids, and every little kid was full of smiles as they worked and played
on ice. I know every single kid will end this season with memories which will
increase their chances of returning to hockey next year.


Another opportunity the U7 kids had was to go on ice and play an intermission
game at the Oshawa Generals OHL game. Intermission games are something
I try to do with every team I coach, it’s about the memory the kids will always
have. 99% of kids will never make the NHL/OHL or play anything other than
house league. But to these U7 kids playing that intermission game it's as though
they are playing an Olympic or NHL game when they are out there. When they
walk into the dressing room and see their names on placards in the dressing
room the smiles start. You can see their eyes go wide with awe as they step onto
the ice, thousands of fans cheering them on. They came off that ice smiling ear
to ear, and once they were in the dressing room they couldn't stop talking about
it. It was something so simple for us as parents/coaches to do for them, and I
was so happy I could organize it for them. If anyone out there is contemplating
coaching or helping their child's coach I can't recommend it enough, just
remember it's about them and let the fun happen! 


McDonald's Atomc
McDonald's is a proud sponsor of our U11 Division formerly known as Atom!
VanderDuim Mortgages
129 King Street East, Bowmanville 905-623-9738
Gibson's Building Supplies
85 Station Street, Orono 905-983-8000