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The Impact of a Coach

By Ross Forman, 12/15/21, 7:30AM CST


Matthew Boeing was the York JV assistant coach a few years ago when Anthony Trankina was one of the team’s natural goal-scorers, a skilled player who was liked on and off the ice. Trankina ultimately played three JV seasons before landing on the Dukes’ varsity.

He used skating JV as a junior to motivate himself for his senior season.

“When he finally made the varsity (team), he was able to produce, like I knew he would and could,” Boeing said.

Trankina credits Boeing, then and still today.

Boeing simply did what all coaches should do, at all levels: he coached, guided, motivated, inspired and got Trankina ready for the next level.

When he graduated from York, he sent a long text message to Boeing, thanking him for all that Boeing and the York coaching staff did for him, on and off the ice, particularly with life skills.

“Anthony is someone who, to this day, I think of when I ask myself, ‘Did you make an impact on one person as a coach?’” Boeing said.

The answer is, emphatically yes!

“I believed in him, knowing what he was capable of doing. I think that paid off. We helped him (reach) his full potential,” said Boeing, who has coached at York since 2014. He is now the school’s head varsity coach and hockey director.

Trankina is now a senior, skating for the Roosevelt University Lakers' ACHA Division II team, which stands at 2-14 heading into the 2022 portion of their schedule, with their home games played in Bensenville.

Boeing, meanwhile, began his coaching career with the Hornets Sled Hockey team and Diversity Hockey when he was 16 years-old while playing for the Blues Midget Minor CSDHL team. That’s when he realized coaching and working with athletes was a passion and a strength of his. 

“There are constant ups and downs as a coach and teacher,” said Boeing, who also is a PE teacher in Medinah. “You often wonder, ‘Am I really making an impact?’ That brings the confidence and motivation to continue, which is something that you cannot just create in the kitchen.

“What we do as coaches and teachers, yes, it really does matter. You have the ability and opportunity to make an impact on a player, on a kid. That truly makes coaching and teaching a dream job.”

To that, Boeing reminds coaches, at all levels, that it is always important to have fun, and always love the game, especially since the student-athletes read off their coaches. If the coaches are having fun, they’re having fun. “Be reflective, be open to new things and growth. Realize why you got involved in hockey, why you got involved in coaching,” Boeing said. “To one kid, you may just be Coach. To one kid, you may be The World. Treat every kid like he is a priority, your No. 1 player. Always stay positive, always have an impact … that is the reward of coaching and teaching.”

Boeing said players often know the exact moment when their coach did or said something that truly made a difference – and they usually carry it well beyond that season.

“Coaching is a daily grind and, sure, at times you wonder if you’re really making an impact, making a difference. And sure, you might not (do so) immediately,” Boeing. “But when you do make that impact on a player’s life, it can be more powerful for you than for the kid.”

York’s varsity assistant coach is Nicholas Albergo, now in his fourth season with the club, which also is his alma mater. Albergo graduated from York in 2011 after playing locally for the Chicago Blues. Albergo was a two-time All-State Showcase member as well as 2011 High School Hockey Player of the Year. He then played Junior Hockey for multiple teams, including the Chicago Steel.

Boeing is one of several who helped Albergo on his hockey journey.

“There’s not always a set right or wrong theory when it comes to coaching. There’s a new-age of coaches, thus coaches have to understand how to communicate with the different individuals on the team, that there are lots of different learning styles, just like there are lots of different coaching styles,” Boeing said. “Something you want to teach in the classroom, for instance, there are at times multiple ways to teach it to multiple different types of kids. Same for coaching, and that’s the great thing about having multiple coaches because different kids will bond to different coaches.

“Kids are going to fail, and that’s OK at times, so they know what they have to work on. It helps get them out of that comfort zone, showing them that not everyone and everything has to be perfect. Learning from mistakes is important. Rather than reprimanding kids for making mistakes, help them build confidence.”

Boeing said former York head coach Bruce Turpin was among several who motivated him as a player. Tom Rusk and Erin Smith also impacted Boeing. “They had huge impacts on me,” Boeing said. “They took the time out of their day to check in, to see how I was feeling. That really showed me that they really cared about me. I remembered that. They cared about me more as a person than as a hockey player.” Boeing still gets text messages and phone calls from his former coaching role-models.

And Boeing has built that into its coaching profile, staying in-contact with past players.

“It’s important for coaches to know about their players away from the rink. That’s how you build trust, you build relationships,” he said.