The head coach of the Western hockey team may be new at his post, but he knows the team pretty well. After all, he is also a former teammate. Adam Moon, 22, has been playing hockey most of his life, and now he’s carrying the coach’s clipboard.
It was not until last season, however, the opportunity would come to him. The previous coach was let go, for reasons Moon declined to discuss, and Moon took on the responsibilities halfway through the season, even though he was a student at Whatcom Community College at the time.
“I thought, ‘Hey, I could do this,” Moon said.
Moon said the reception from the team has been very positive.
“So far, the boys have been really receptive of me,” he said. “It’s everything I thought it would be.”
Having a player-coach is not new for the team, as they’ve had them in past years, but Moon is unique in that he is a coach only, not a player.
Moon refers to himself as a “player’s coach” and said he doesn’t shout out during the game.
“I’m there for the boys,” he said. “These kids, for the most part, have been playing hockey their whole lives. They don’t need me to sit there and tell them what they’re doing wrong. If they make a mistake, they know what they’re doing.”
Moon said he envisions himself more as an advisor.
“I want them to come to me if they have a question on how we could be doing something different,” he said.
Moon said he tries to go against the “uptight, angry coach” stereotype, while at the same time doing his job and bringing out the best in the team.
“I’m pretty laid back,” he said. “It’s a fine line to walk between being their friend and their coach. So far, I think we’re doing a pretty good job with that.”
One of the reasons why the transition from “friend” to “friend and coach” has been so smooth, is because it was the team who encouraged him to take the job in the first place, Moon said.
“Last year, the team sort of pushed me into [the coach position],” he said. “I feel that the respect was there from the team.”
One of the main concerns for any coach is integrating new players, particularly underclassmen, into the team’s structure. This was a particular challenge this season, as many of the plays and drills were being revised. Moon said the club structure made this an easier transition.
“It’s a student-run organization, which means you have different types of leadership,” he said. “There’s team leadership, which run and organize the club, and there’s me.”
Moon is not too concerned about the new players not learning the ropes.
“The new, incoming freshmen have picked right up on it and have jumped right in,” he said.
Moon, grew up in Boise, Idaho. With limited activities, Moon’s parents decided to have him try hockey at a young age. He got involved with the local hockey league, and has had a stick in his hand ever since.
Moon said Boise is no worse than anywhere else when it comes to junior hockey. Most junior hockey leagues have developed a reputation for having overly aggressive participants, including players, parents and coaches.
“I think anywhere you go, you’re going to have overly competitive parents and kids who take it too seriously,” he said. “Luckily for me, though, I’ve always had really good coaches.”
In fact, Moon credits his positive experiences in the youth leagues for his current success.
Moon said the coaches he looked up to were responsible for him wanting to be a coach himself.
“That really influenced me into the coach I am today,” he said. “It was always in the back of my mind that this might be something I want to do.”