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Becoming a Student Coach

By Ross Forman, 11/18/21, 2:45PM CST


Zander Marino-Sacharoff is a junior defenseman and captain for the co-op D155 Predators Hockey Club, a mix of players from Cary-Grove, Crystal Lake Central, Crystal Lake South and Prairie Ridge High Schools.

He has 4 goals, 7 assists in the team’s first 12 games in the 10-team Varsity Gold League of the IHSHL North-Central Division. The Predators’ 14 points only trail league-leaders Leyden and the Spartans (17 point each).

Marino-Sacharoff, who attends Prairie Ridge in Crystal Lake, is a leader out of the locker room, too.  But still at the rink.

He volunteers every Tuesday evening with a power-skating class and every Sunday morning with the Minor Hawks program.  These are two of the classes that the Yellowjackets/Crystal Ice House puts on for their young players looking to improve their skills.

Marino-Sacharoff, 16, also once-a-week is a skating coach at the Ice House to help with private lessons.

Student-coaching is an option for teenagers to consider, an avenue to stay active (or further active) within the game.

“I like (student-coaching) a lot because coaching is what I want to do when I grow up,” he said. “I think being a student-coach makes me a better player because I have to make sure I am doing everything (correctly), to make sure that the kids know what they are doing.

“If I do it wrong, they will do it wrong.  So, (student-coaching) makes me do things correctly and makes me a better person my helping other people.”

Marino-Sacharoff said the best part of student-coaching is learning how to communicate with others. “Everyone is different, so you have to learn how to talk to everyone,” he said. “The most challenging part of student-coaching is, figuring how people respond differently to everything and keep everyone in check and having fun.”

AHAI Coach In Chief Jim Clare was quick to point out that, “Your time in the game doesn’t have to end when you end playing.”

There are, of course, many options to consider, such as officiating, which is much needed, and certainly coaching, too, said Clare said. “If the students are under (the age of) 18, they can be a student-coach. If they are 18 or older, they have to go through the whole coaching process.”

But coaching certainly bring benefits-a-plenty for students, including organizational, teaching and communication skills, plus, further knowledge of the game.

Being a student-coach also can bring service hours that many youngsters need.

“Being a coach or a student-coach is great for colleges, as many schools are looking to know what you do beyond school, what extracurricular activities are you involved with,” Clare said.

A player between the ages of 13 and 17 who is registered with USA Hockey may serve as a student-coach after attending a training session conducted by the local hockey association, and more.

Student-coaches need to complete Safesport and Background Screening if turning 18 during the year in which they are coaching.  Also at age 18, the student-coach must comply with the USA Hockey Screening Program and meet the USA Hockey Coaching Education Program requirements which will qualify him/her to function as an assistant or head coach.

And yes, local student-coaches are boys and girls, Clare confirmed.

“If kids understand the benefit of being a student-coach, I think more will register,” he said. “The power of student-coaches on the girls’ side of the game is more important (than the boys). It is very powerful, very empowering in the girls’ game.”