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Alexandra College

Staff Spotlight - Gavin Groves

Every Friday we feature a member of our staff in the Staff Spotlight! This week, we spoke to Director of Hockey Gavin Groves about his teaching career.


What interested you in coaching?

Well, I suppose it was more the experience of it - I’ve played hockey since I was five, and so when the opportunity came closer to the end of my playing days to coach a few sessions here and there I just enjoyed it, and it went from there. It’s become my passion now as well as my job, it’s something I very much enjoy doing, so it sort of evolved, rather than having been a complete and utter focus about doing it after I finished playing hockey. 


What makes coaching hockey exciting?

It’s the tangible achievements every day, you know, there’s obviously massive fluctuations up and down and then experiences that differ each training session, but it’s seeing the tangible change in players’ development and players achieving things that they maybe think they couldn’t achieve or that they have set a goal for, and then they do achieve those things. It’s really fulfilling when you play a part in that, and it’s getting to work with different types of players each day and each year as well. 


Why did you choose to coach at Alex?

Well, I’d been working in Newbridge College for a while and worked on developing a structure in the school when this job came up, and my wife and I had a discussion and said you know, it could be a great opportunity. What the school stands for and the ethos were what really appealed to me, as well as trying to develop a structure similar to what I built at Newbridge and recapture the success of the school in the past have been the real drivers behind it. 


How have you adapted your coaching for Covid-19? 

We adopted a focus on more technical skills during Covid-19, and I think we’ll keep that going. In the past, I think there was an assumption that players find it boring, when in fact I think it might be the coaches that find it boring. So the stuff that is distance orientated, and revolves around individual techniques and basic skillsets, are things that I think we can see has made a difference for certain players in that Covid-19 environment and how much they’ve improved. It does give you a bit of an eye-opener that actually, we should really be focusing more time on those skills at each individual session so yeah, I think that’s something we’ll carry on doing. 


What has been the highlight of your coaching career so far?

It’s hard to say, I’m not a nostalgic sort of individual! I tend to just park something once I’ve done it, as much as I’ve had success as a coach at interprovincial tournaments, international tournaments, et cetera, but once it’s gone, it’s done, I move on to the next phase. I tend to bank it quickly to make sure that I’m as focused as possible on what’s coming next, and hopefully moving on to bigger and better things!