The times, they are a-changing
Trojans coaches reflect on their playing careers
As with everything else in the world, over the course of time, things evolve to become better and sports is no exception.
When we compare sports today to those of the past, it is clear that much has changed and we may often look back and think how weird or crazy things were.
Head coach of the SAIT Trojans women’s hockey team, Terry Larson, has witnessed these changes first hand when he compares his time coaching and watching the game of hockey to back when he played.
“Everything is completely different,” Larson said. “Everything you look at [in] the game is changing.”
As Larson reflected back on his playing career, he noted some of the simple ways the game has evolved, such as the ability to view video footage of past games, which has become a major asset to coaches and players.
To some, it may not be seen as a major change to have video sessions with players, but it’s a change that benefits the team to fix problems on ice, which they did not have the luxury of before.
“There are two types of players, one that thinks they do can do no wrong and one that thinks everything they do is wrong,” Larson said.
“With video, now you show them what they do right or wrong and what they need to change.”
Even the pace and scoring has undergone an overhaul. There are still the occasional high scoring games that were common before. Now, however, we see more tight 1-0 or 2-1 games.
Larson gives credit not only to the changing of the game, but to how much goalies have improved.
“Goalies have gotten so much better. At this level there’s no bad goalie,” Larson said.
“In the old days, it was always ‘get someone in the goalie’s face.’ Now you want someone up by the hash marks to screen or look for high rebounds in order to score.”
The game has created room for more creativity, which has been met with high success.
“I remember an old quote from Fred Shero saying, ‘You can fight systems with systems, but you can’t fight creativity with systems’.”
“Throw in some intangibles and now the system doesn’t know what to do,” Larson said.
Head coach for the Trojans men’s hockey team, Dan Olsen, was a student athlete himself back when he played, and points out how different and better the game has become.
Even off-ice training that players go through in between practices and games is different since the coach’s playing days.
“We didn’t have workouts like these guys do or the training they do,” Olsen said.
“They’re better athletes than we were back in those days.”
The speed of the game has picked up intensely since Olsen’s playing days and not in one position but all, as Olsen sees how quick every player is to get to the puck.
“Back then, defensemen were a little bit slower so forwards had an advantage to beat them out,” Olsen said.
“Guys are a lot stronger and faster now that there’s no more time and space to operate.”
The introduction of analytics has also changed how players and coaches look at the game, analyzing the numbers besides goals, points and saves to gauge how efficient a player or goalie is each game.
Olsen and his coaching staff don’t look too deep into the analytics of the game, but it is fairly new and something that can be taken into consideration at times.
“It’s crazy how they break it down with analytics,” Olsen said.
“We don’t use it too much, but it helps to get numbers on when we decide who to bring in.”
Although it hasn’t been too long since co-head coach of the Trojans cross-country and indoor track teams, Ryan Edgar, ran for the University of Calgary, he also has noticed how much has evolved in his sport.
“The biggest difference has been the number of people running has increased,” Edgar said.
“People are making better lifestyle changes and living more active.”
Edgar believes that both cross-country and indoor track have grown in popularity over the years and will continue to going forward.
It is more common to see student athletes run for the teams straight out of high school, showcasing what their strengths in different distances are.
“It’s cool to see how everyone does things differently,” Edgar said.
“There are a lot of different running styles now.”
It’s a sport that has come a long way, and will continue to as awareness and exposure reach more people than when he ran.
Each year, aspects of running have changed and with the success that SAIT has had with its running athletics, it will only evolve more, according to the coach.
“It’s a legitimate sport and getting more popular,” Edgar said.
“You can see it talent-wise and the talent will continue to expand.”