Dallas Zupp represents the future of coaching in the Greater Vernon Minor Hockey Association.
And after one year as a full-time assistant with the Sladen Moore Bantam A Female Lakers, the 19-year-old appears primed to stay in the game. He drew high praise from the Lakers, who bowed to the Kamloops Mystix in the Okanagan Mainline finals.
Brooke Berube, 15, played defence and wing, earning Most Improved Player honour for the Lakers.
“He really pushed us to improve in practices,” said Berube. “He skated hard and when you were matched with him in a battle drill, you had to work hard. Whenever we did something well in a game, he was always complimenting us. As a person, he was very helpful and because we’re closer to his age, he understood us. He was tons of fun to have on the bench.”
Zupp, who was a magician with the puck during his minor career, took the initiative and completed the two-day coaching Development 1 certificate (he still has some post-clinic assignments to complete), his Respect in Sports certification and mandatory Criminal Record Check.
“I know Brent Magnus because he coached me last year (as a Midget House overager) and he wanted me to help with creativity and stuff. I just kind of worked with everybody,” said Zupp, who mainly played Rep over the years.
“It was different for sure. They are definitely better listeners than boys, at times. I tried to get them to get quicker shots off and I definitely saw improvements throughout the season. It’s nice to know they’re improving through my help.”
Magnus, the Lakers’ head coach, said Zupp was able to communicate with the girls on a level some older coaches may have found difficult.
“Dallas developed a strong player-coach relationship despite being at a younger age,” said Magnus. “He was beneficial to both the coaches and the players. He brought some fresh ideas and opinions. He was a high-skilled player and we had him help demonstrate some drills and he worked the door at games, giving advice.”
Zupp, a Fulton grad, was the only full-time teenage coach in minor hockey as he worked around his schedule as a bellman at the Best Western Vernon Lodge.
“I was there all the time and I enjoyed it. I’d definitely do it again. I talked to all the players a lot. Our captain, Andie Kaneda, was a great leader with great attitude. It’s good to have her as a captain. She’s pretty vocal, but she leads a lot by example too.”
Zupp, who turns 20 in November, actually got into coaching last year when Fulton teacher Dale Olson asked him to guide the Maroons Grade 8 boys volleyball team. Zupp and buddy Nick Alves took on the assignment.
The coaching experience was a family affair for Dallas, whose father, Darren, also helped Magnus, and assistant Jeff Southam.
“Now that Dallas is coaching, a couple of his friends are thinking about coaching as well,” said Darren. “I think this is a good thing for young players to get into coaching when they’re finished playing and give back because we need them to carry on the torch.”
Sandy Moger, director of hockey operations, had former Junior A players Kevin Swales and Conor Barrie (goalie) help with early-morning practices with his Pee Wee Tier 1 Vipers. He would love to see more minor hockey grads get into coaching.
“It’s good to see the young kids get back into it because some day, we’ll need them to be head coaches,” said Moger.
Coaching application forms are available at the minor hockey office at Civic Arena. Graduating players will play the coaches in a fun game next Thursday, (5:30 p.m.) at Civic. Pizza will be supplied. Coaches and volunteers of the year will be announced.