Coaches with the Juan de Fuca Minor Hockey association have had to get creative during their weekly practices to keep players interested and improving their skills without physical contact. (Damian Kowalewich photo)

Coaches with the Juan de Fuca Minor Hockey association have had to get creative during their weekly practices to keep players interested and improving their skills without physical contact. (Damian Kowalewich photo)

West Shore minor hockey coach shares what it’s like on the ice without parents, fans

Most practices consist of relay races, goalie shots and passing drills

From as early as 6 a.m., Damian Kowalewich is at an ice rink with his team for practice around four times a week.

Although an arena without any fans or parents is a reality for most hockey players these days, the coach for Juan de Fuca Minor Hockey U13 is making the best out of a tough situation.

Kowalewich said it’s been taking all his creative muscles to figure out how to keep his team of 17 interested, while still learning new skills without any physical contact.

Juan de Fuca minor hockey coach and View Royal Coun. Damian Kowalewich. (Kathy Kitchen/EO3 Photography)

Most practices consist of improving shots on goal, continuous passing drills, and speed relay races. But the process to getting on the ice in the first place is a laundry list.

First, players and staff must take their daily health check and mark their temperature on a board. Then, they have to change into their gear in divided stalls. Finally, they can hop on the ice, while maintaining physical distance, and have the option to remove their masks that they wore since entering the building.

READ MORE: Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

With more than 700 kids in the program, the minor league sport has managed to continue operating since returning in the fall.

But the thought of livestreaming games for parents is now a distant memory, as Kowalewich’s team was only able to play three games before they were placed under stricter regulations in November.

During an average season, the team of 11- to 13-year-olds would have played between 15 to 20 games on the ice by now.

“I realize that parents aren’t able to watch their child play hockey and it’s a big deal,” said Kowalewich.

“But just know that we’re watching and we’re responsible. I’m truly lucky that I feel like I have the trust of the community.”

The coach, who is also a View Royal councillor and sergeant at Saanich Police Department, sends out monthly updates and pictures to parents about what staff have been teaching the kids.

Harold Bloomenthal, president of the Juan de Fuca Hockey Association, said the teams have been spread out across The Q Centre in Colwood, Westhills Arena in Langford and CFB Esquimalt’s Wurtele Arena, as the Juan de Fuca Arena has been closed until March for repairs.

“We’re still trying to have fun and not freak out because we want to keep things safe,” said Bloomenthal.

Notably, there hasn’t been a single case of COVID reported among staff or players within the Juan de Fuca Minor Hockey Association.

Kowalewich said although he doesn’t know where the season will go, he’s made it an important lesson to teach his players that they should be pushing themselves to improve their skills – even though no one will be watching from the stands.

ALSO READ: No swimming or skating at Juan de Fuca rec centre for now


 

Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

aaron.guillen@goldstreamgazette.com

BC Minor HockeyJuan de Fuca

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria’s Swartz Bay terminal. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries offers cheaper, prepaid fare options

Ferry service preparing for busy terminals when travel restrictions are lifted

Victoria police are investigating after several vehicles were smashed and a basement was flooded along lower Cook Street March 2. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria police investigating smashed vehicles, flooded basement on Cook Street

Police seeking witnesses, footage of several ‘mischief’ incidents

Hundreds of child care spaces will be available in Greater Victoria in the coming two years. (Unsplash)
More than 300 child care spaces opening in Greater Victoria in next two years

Province announces spaces in Victoria, Sooke, Saanich and North Saanich

Victoria Police Department vehicles outside the headquarters building. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria police investigating sudden death in Beacon Hill Park

Police, paramedics responded to a report of an unresponsive person early Wednesday

This dead fir tree is one of many in Mount Douglas Park. Nine dead trees will be removed from the Douglas Creek site starting March 8 to make way for the construction of a new pedestrian bridge. (Photo courtesy Jason Clarke)
Nine dead, hazardous trees to be removed from Saanich park ahead of bridge construction

Felling begins March 8, minor trail interruptions expected in Mount Douglas Park

A discarded blue surgical mask is shown hanging in a bush in Montreal, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
B.C. RMT suspended for not wearing a mask after confirmed by undercover clients

College of Massage Therapists has 5 open files, said suspension necessary to protect public

A boat caught fire in Ladysmith Harbour on Saturday morning. (Photo submitted)
Missing woman’s remains recovered after Vancouver Island boat fire

Remains of a 60-year-old woman recovered after Feb. 27 boat fire took her life

COVID-19 vaccines were available at a site on East Pender in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside Feb. 25. (Twitter/Sarahblyth17)
Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside residents offered $5 after getting COVID-19 vaccine

It’s an effort to ‘incentivize people to engage,’ says B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix

(Black Press Media files)
B.C. teacher transferred then suspended after students report feeling ‘scared, nervous’

Authorities found that teacher did not create inviting, respectful environment for students

FILE - Dolly Parton arrives at the 61st annual Grammy Awards on Feb. 10, 2019, in Los Angeles. The Grammy-winning singer, actor and humanitarian posted a video on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, of her singing just before getting her COVID-19 vaccine shot. Parton donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee for coronavirus research. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
‘Vaccine, vaccine’: Dolly sings ‘Jolene’ rewrite before shot

The Grammy-winning legend turned 75 this year

Most Read