The Vernon Vipers are a junior A hockey team based in Vernon, British Columbia. Established in 1991, they have a rich history of success in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), with six league championships and four national championships. The Vipers are known for their competitive and winning culture, which has been largely shaped by the various coaches who have led the team throughout the years.
One coach in particular, Mark Ferner, has become synonymous with the Vipers and their winning ways. With over 10 years of coaching experience at the helm of the Vipers, Ferner has left a significant impact on the program and its players. In this article, we will delve into the legacy of Mark Ferner and the influence he has had on the Vernon Vipers.
As a player, Ferner was no stranger to the game of hockey. He played professionally for over 15 years, including time in the NHL, before transitioning into coaching. This experience on the ice has undoubtedly shaped his coaching style and approach, making him a well-respected and knowledgeable coach in the BCHL.
Ferner’s tenure as head coach of the Vipers began in 2007, and it wasn’t long before he led the team to their first national championship in 2009. Under his guidance, the Vipers have consistently been one of the top teams in the BCHL, regularly competing for league and national titles.
But it’s not just about the wins and losses for Ferner. His leadership style focuses on developing players not only on the ice but also as individuals off the ice. He emphasizes the importance of community involvement and academic success, instilling valuable life lessons that transcend the game of hockey.
One of Ferner’s greatest strengths is his ability to create a winning culture within the team. From day one, he sets high expectations for his players, both on and off the ice. He creates a competitive and disciplined environment that fosters growth and development, allowing players to reach their full potential.
Ferner also takes the time to build strong relationships with his players, earning their trust and respect. He is known for his open-door policy, always making himself available to listen to his players and address any concerns they may have. This level of trust and communication between coach and player is essential to creating a successful team dynamic.
But perhaps Ferner’s most significant impact on the Vipers program is his focus on development and player advancement. With his vast network of connections within the hockey community, he is able to provide his players with opportunities to move on to higher levels of hockey. Since Ferner’s coaching tenure began, over 50 Vipers players have gone on to play college hockey, and an impressive 20 have continued on to play professionally in the NHL, AHL, and other minor leagues.
Even for players who may not go on to play at higher levels, Ferner’s coaching has a lasting impact. Many of his former players credit him for teaching them not only valuable hockey skills but also life skills that have helped them become successful in their personal and professional lives.
The Vernon Vipers organization as a whole has also benefited from Ferner’s leadership. Through his commitment to excellence and winning culture, the team has seen a significant increase in fan support and community engagement. The Vipers have gone from averaging 1,000 fans per game to over 2,500 fans in recent years, making them one of the most well-attended junior hockey teams in Canada.
It is challenging to establish and maintain a winning program. But the Vernon Vipers and their legendary coach, Mark Ferner, have done just that. His legacy is one of success, development, and community involvement, and his impact on the Vipers program will be felt for years to come.