Brett Gibson named to men’s U17 Canadian coaching staff

Men’s hockey coach to join team for World Hockey Challenge

Gibson coaching the Gaels.
Photo by Ian MacAlpine
Many aspects of men’s hockey head coach Brett Gibson’s life revolve around growth. 
That’s why when Hockey Canada came to Gibson for the third time in two years asking him to coach at the World under-17 Hockey Challenge, he welcomed the opportunity with open arms.
“It’s humbling, really, to coach the national team … [W]hen you get that call that they want you 
to be a head coach, it’s an unbelievable experience to develop as a coach and person,” Gibson, who’s heading into year 13 coaching the Gaels, told The Journal.
Gibson will lead some of the country’s brightest young talent from Nov. 3-10, serving as the head coach for Team Canada White—one of two Canadian teams featured in the competition. The tournament will be held in Saint John and Quipamsis, New Brunswick. 
This will be his third gig with Hockey Canada, having served as an assistant coach in the 2017 under-17 Challenge and as Team Canada’s head coach in the 2017 Winter Universiade Championships.
For Gibson, the chance to be a part of the Challenge in a head coaching role is an opportunity to develop his craft. With Queen’s as his main focus, he considers his national positions as a means to improve his Gaels’ program.
“I get to represent the country, but I get to come back to Queen’s as a better coach,” Gibson said.
Sharing a bench alongside other world-class coaches, Gibson added his development isn’t solely based on tactics. 
Similar to players, coaches go through a summer development camp that trains their ability to manage high-stress situations and maximize a player’s utility on the ice.
“They teach you as coaches breathing techniques on how to calm yourself down on the bench to systems and structure and then player’s skill development,” Gibson said. “That’s the biggest thing I’ve taken away from that—the number one priority of any coach is skill development.”
“It used to be a weakness and now I think it’s a strength of mine.”
With the tournament taking place in early November, Gibson has faced the challenge of managing the Gaels through the thick of their regular season. The team’s season starts on Oct. 5 against McGill. 
During the 2017-18 campaign, Gibson—returning from his head coaching duties at last year’s under-17 Challenge—found himself missing four consecutive games the Gaels lost.  With a greater understanding of the impact his absence has on the team, Gibson is determined to provide Queen’s with a structured plan to cope while he’s away.
“There are practice plans and we’ll go through everything in a game management plan with our coaching staff,” Gibson said. “The more prepared they can be leading up to it, the more comfortable they’re going to be.”
Gibson noted he remains just as faithful to his team as he was last year, when they broke their record for most regular season wins.
“I trust my coaching staff but more importantly, I trust my players. I’m dealing with men and it’s a process,” Gibson said. “If we do the right things all the time, we’ll be rewarded with results.”
Ultimately, the chance to coach for Canada presents far more benefits than not. The opportunity for growth it offers is as at its heart.
“I think that’s what we all need to do as coaches,” he said. “We can’t stand still.”

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