Gord Young.

Gord Young.

On the road again: Smithers coach moves on

An outstanding member of the Smithers’ hockey community has moved away.

Gord Young has been the coach of the Smithers Steelheads for three years now, a dream come true for the born-and-raised hockey player.

“It has to be a passion, you have to love what you’re doing and I did,” Young said. “I enjoy hockey, and I enjoy coaching; like I say, it has to be a passion.”

Until he was 16 years old, you’d find him on an ice surface here in Smithers, playing the game he loves the most until he moved to Nelson for a year. After that he played for Kamloops for awhile, until moving back to Smithers. When the former coach stepped down, the board of directors asked him to fill in. He had the time, and as an avid player and former talent scout he was more than ready for the challenge, he said.

“I never really thought about it a lot before,” Young said. “I never saw myself as a coach until they approached me, and I thought it was a good opportunity.”

Those three years have been pretty fun, Young said, with a lot of good guys on the team.

“I enjoyed it,” Young said.

But coaching CIHL isn’t where his coaching career began, it was with a far younger crowd in minor hockey who were just learning the sport and developing the same passion that he had. In minor hockey, Young was a coach for 15 years. The main reason was his son was involved in hockey, so he began teaching Initiation level, which is 4 to 5 year olds until he moved away.  But by then, coaching was a part of his life, Young said, who continued to coach even after his son moved away to pursue a career in junior hockey.

Watching an Initiation player grow up and progress through the minor hockey program to Bantams level makes one quite proud, Young said. In 2000, a group that he had coached from when they were five until they were 13-to-14 years of age who had won their zones went off to win provincials.  Quite the coup for such a small community as Smithers, Young said.

“They were a really good group of kids … who moved up together, and by the time they got to that age they had progressed so well that they were the best in the province,” Young said.

Not only that, but those same kids won the Bantam AAA tournament in Prince George. For a AA level team to win against teams one level higher than them is amazing, and a lot more difficult than winning provincials.

“That was a huge challenge and stepping stone for that group of kids,” Young said, who was quite proud of the work they’d done to go that far.

But, as all things, times come to a close, and Young submitted his resignation for both coaching the Steelheads and minor hockey teams as he and his wife are moving down south to be closer to family.

At the moment, he’s not so sure on whether or not he plans to continue coaching down south or not. As of yet, he doesn’t know who the key players are down there for starting out coaching, and he’s actually looking forward to getting back to playing hockey, rather than trying to coach it as well.

“I wouldn’t mind getting back to playing some hockey,” Young said. “I would like to get back involved with some high level playing.”

Some old friends of his have asked him numerous times to come on down to play, Young said, and as his wife just got transferred down there now seemed like a good time to switch it up and take them up on their offer.

“You never know where it would lead to, but there is a lot of hockey in this area,” Young said.

And he may yet go back to coaching, he said.

Given the chance to do it all over again, there’s no question, he said.

“Absolutely, I’ve had some great times coaching, especially the minor hockey,” Young said. “The group of kids we had and the parents were great and we had a lot of success.

“Lots of great memories, we were on the road every weekend, but it was worth it.”