Let’s not mess around, Jim wouldn't like it. So here’s part 3 of my interview with Jim Dinwoodie, head coach of the Bantam A1 Winterhawks at the North Shore Winter Club.
We left off last week talking about players rising to the occasion in big moments beneath the spotlight.
KC: ...and other places you've experienced, there isn't the same level of exposure at younger levels.
JD: You hear me? They didn’t play in these provincial finals, they didn’t go to Medicine Hat, they didn’t go to St. Albert. There’s magic, these kids have played in pressure before. Until you’ve been there playing for a western championship, you have no idea how your body and mind are going to react.
KC: Not to talk about myself too much, but two years ago when the Giants won the Mac’s Tournament, it was Jansen Harkins passing to Jarid Lukosevicious to Brandon De Grosso and we score with 12 seconds left with 10000 people screaming. Gets us into overtime where Bo Didur shut the door, and then Eric Margo created the goal in double OT.
JD: And the common thread, they’ve all played in the big games. People debate this, whether it’s the right thing to do, but I think you want to know what players will do on a big stage. Ken Hitchcock always says the spotlight will make you big or small. In the Olympics, the light will make you big or small. That’s what the Western Hockey League is starting to sniff out about our program. Our players have played under the light, and that’s why a lot of them are getting drafted. There’s no sure path to the higher levels, but the big games, that’s a real good start.
KC: So there’s two parts to that, how they play under the light, but also that they’re being put in these positions at an early age to see how it goes. It’s not always the right answer. Parents too, they rush their kids, they push them up and they’re not emotionally ready for it and it can damage them.
JD: Yeah I’ve seen parents push harder than their kids. Which is strange. You watch in North West Giants’ camp, the kids are as astute as anybody, they will organize themselves into the order, the proper order. they know better than anyone. Just run the drill and then watch how they pair themselves off.
KC: So you personally. You came back to bantam after major midget, I’m sure you’ve had lots of opportunities, but what keeps bringing you back to bantam, what keeps bringing you back to the game overall?
JD: For me, it filled something I missed as a player. The environment, being a head coach is a different animal, but just being in and around the guys. There’s something special that happens. I work in a job in the corporate world where they use the word team a lot and I correct them. Stop saying it. That’s a sacred word to me. When you get it right and you watch what can happen, it’s probably the greatest thrill of your life. You go, holy s#!t. I’m not the brightest guy in the world, but I tend to not make the same mistake twice. I’ve been here 9 years, and every year there’s something new. That team gives me something to take forward.
KC: Is it always something new for you, each year?
JD: Every team has it’s own personality. Last year we were the Chicago Blackhawks, this year we’re the LA Kings. But in any case, we’re us, you know? We have an identity, and the secret sauce is getting better and better.
I feel prepared, Mitch and I, our group, we feel prepared, and I always know what’s going to happen next.
For Jim Dinwoodie and the Bantam A1 program at the North Shore Winter Club, "next" always represents something special.
Be part of what happens next. Check out the Bantam A1 team’s schedule.