For many young athletes, playing hockey is not just a hobby, but a passion that drives them to excel on the ice. And for those aspiring to make it big in the sport, having a great coach could make all the difference. Where minor hockey programs are constantly evolving, it is crucial to have leaders who can shape young players into successful athletes and role models.
In the bustling city of North Richland Hills, Texas, sits the NYTEX Sports Centre – home to the Lone Star Brahmas, a junior ice hockey team that competes in the North American Hockey League (HL). The team was founded in 2013 as a relocation of the Wenatchee Wild and has undergone significant changes since then – most notably, the impact of their coaching staff led by Dan Wildfong, Shawn Skelly, and Jeff Potter.
Under their guidance, the Brahmas have consistently been one of the top teams in the HL, with playoff appearances in each of their first four seasons and a Robertson Cup Championship win in 2017. But beyond their on-ice accomplishments, it is the lasting legacy of these coaches that has made a profound impact on the program and its players.
Leading by : The Coaching Style of Dan Wildfong
Dan Wildfong, the head coach of the Brahmas, brings his own unique approach to the team – one that is founded on hard work, discipline, and a strong mental game. With over 20 years of coaching experience, including stints in the ECHL and SPHL, Wildfong has instilled a winning culture in the Brahmas’ locker room.
Known for pushing his players to their limits, Wildfong sets high expectations for his team, both on and off the ice. His coaching style is all about leading by example, and he expects nothing less from his players. This has resulted in an environment where hard work and dedication are the norm, and players have developed a strong work ethic that has helped them succeed in both their athletic and personal lives.
Building a Brotherhood: The Impact of Shawn Skelly
While Wildfong may be the face of the Brahmas’ coaching staff, assistant coach Shawn Skelly plays a crucial role in the team’s success. With a background in collegiate and junior hockey, including coaching the USA Hockey U-17 National Team, Skelly’s focus is on developing players both mentally and physically.
But beyond his coaching duties, Skelly has also built strong relationships with his players, creating a sense of family within the team. This brotherhood is evident on and off the ice, where players support and push each other to be their best. As a result, the Brahmas have a strong team chemistry that has helped them excel in pressure situations.
The Heart of the Team: The Impact of Jeff Potter
Hockey is more than just a sport – it’s a way of life. For team president and general manager, Jeff Potter, this mantra holds true. As a former professional hockey player and coach, Potter brings a wealth of experience and passion to the Brahmas organization.
Under his leadership, the Brahmas have established strong connections with the local community, engaging with fans and creating a supportive and inclusive environment at home games. With Potter at the helm, the team has also prioritized the development of its players, focusing on their academic and athletic growth. This has resulted in numerous players moving on to play in Division I college hockey programs – a testament to the dedication and commitment of the coaching staff.
A Legacy of Leadership: The Impact on the Program
In the competitive world of junior hockey, it is not just about wins and losses. It is about developing young players who will go on to become future leaders and role models. And the legacy of the Brahmas’ coaching staff extends far beyond their on-ice achievements.
Their guidance and mentorship have helped shape young athletes into well-rounded individuals, instilling valuable life lessons that will stay with them long after their hockey careers have ended. From building strong work ethics to fostering a sense of community and emphasizing personal growth, the impact of these coaches on the program is immeasurable.
So, as the Brahmas continue to compete and evolve in the HL, one thing remains constant – the invaluable legacy of leadership that has helped shape the team into one of the top junior hockey programs in North America.