Finally, the time has come to reflect on my experiences throughout the last hockey season. I feel very fortunate to be able to help, mentor and teach hockey youths in the States and abroad. It was my second season with Jackson Hole high school team as an assistant coach and my first as a head coach with the Israeli national teams. I was given great opportunity to oversee and coach their national hockey program. Tremendous honor it is. I ended up traveling far more than I’ve traveled in many years but the experiences I had were all worth it.
The Israeli U-18, U-20 and the mens’ team all accomplished the goals we set for ourselves and more. The main reason is the players bought into the program and responded to everything the coaching staff asked them to do beyond our expectations.
I firmly believe when the team wins it’s the players who deserve the credit. They listened, responded and executed the game plan well.
When the team looses or does not do as well as anticipated the coach(me) needs to reflect what he did wrong or not well enough. Was the game plan right for the opposition? Did I deliver the message(game plan)in a way players understood? Did I know the players(their strengths and weaknesses) well enough to put them in position to succeed and not to fail? Did I show confidence in my own players’ ability (extremely important but rarely seen) to execute the plan? And most importantly, in my opinion, the coach always needs to remember what it was like being a player.
(Alice this is just for you and can delete it before posting the blog. I think I can apply some of these thoughts from game of hockey into business world. Coach/boss, players/employees now come to think of it. What do you think?)
What I truly want to write about is an evolution of my own prospective on the world of Eastern Europe and Eastern Europeans. Traveling to Israel, playing tournaments in Bulgaria and Croatia I almost felt like I’m stepping back in time. Most of Israel hockey is dominated(in a good way) by people from the former Soviet republics like Ukraine, Belarus and of course Russia. Their opportunity to emigrate to Israel was after 1993, following the break up of the Soviet empire.
During my childhood and adolescence I was clearly blinded by hatred towards anything Soviet. The tyranny their government put my parents and grandparents through is difficult to forgive. The problem was I associated the people of these countries as part of the government. As I found out they were just as oppressed in their own country as we were in ours.
My first twenty five years of living in free and democratic country I did not spend any time thinking or learning about the great cultural, scientific and athletic contributions the Greater Russia and its people have made in the last two-three hundred years. It only started to creep into my mind recently. It took all those years of freedom to let “my guard” down. Coaching these young men whose parents and grandparents went through the same oppression as mine did truly open a whole new world to me.
I started to fully realize the impact Russian literally giants like Pushkin, Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky had on world’s literature. Same can be said about their composers like Tchaikovsky. Their highly accomplished scientific community was unfortunately often devastated by the purges throughout the twentieth century. As an athlete I have to admire their success on international stage. Yes, the success was exploited to benefit the terrible communist government but I have learn to separate the artists, scientists and athletes from the government. They are tough,hard working people who have not had the same opportunities to live in freedom the way Americans or Western Europeans had.
Tyrannical government can destroy human spirit and the desire for freedom in a generation. Functioning democracy just does not happen as soon as the new constitution is ratified. It takes generations and generations of people to work at it and it’s still not guarantee it will succeed. Russians, Ukrainians, any nation in Eastern Europe is dealing with it as we speak. Many of these people are very attached to their rich history and are not willing to completely give up their identity. It is a very difficult balancing act to move forward and still retain your own identity.
On the other hand the United States of America has been in very unique situation. History has given us group of men with an amazing vision. This vision became an experiment and has gone on for 243 years. We must not forget this “experiment “ is taking place on world’s most favorable continent to human habitation. Plenty of water, plenty of fertile soil, natural resources and physical boundaries (two oceans) that has kept us very safe from invaders.
We can comfortably say “we started from scratch in a great location”
When you go through difficult period in your life, the trauma of it does not go away as soon as the times get better. It depends on the individual but it always takes some time before you can start clearly reflect and learn from it or put it behind you.
No matter where I travel and how good things were, the moments just before and during landing are moments of great relief, joy and comfort.
First thought is thank god I’m on the same continent as my wife and daughter(when I travel alone), second is incredible feeling of our country’s security and stability compare to the rest of the world and the third thought is the true freedoms any U.S. citizen has to live fulfilling and productive life.
I’m really looking forward to writing new review on CZ-USA’s lineup of full size 9mm.
CZ SP-01 TACTICAL
CZ P-10 F
CZ 75 PHANTOM
Winter is over in Wyoming and it’s time to get out and burn some gun powder.