As one particular popular hockey personality likes to frequently say, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight that matters, it’s the size of the fight in the dog that does.”
And while Don Cherry’s comments are aimed at smaller players who come up big at crucial times in National Hockey League games – or in any other league for that matter, the same can be said for a number of people involved in sports.
Take for example, Grade 10 student Heather Fryk who, despite her diminutive size, coaches the Rimbey Junior B Spartans Girls Basketball Team, even though many of her players are much taller.
“I got here in Grade 7 and I didn’t play that year, but I played in Grades 8 and 9,” Fryk said. “I was going to play in Grade 10, but with working and whatnot, is was a little hard, but I found time to coach and I like helping younger kids.”
She said that had they not been able to find someone to step into the role of coach, the team most-likely wouldn’t exist however with the support and encouragement of the school’s Vice-Principal Bill Bramfield, Fryk took the plunge.
“I like coaching because of the fact that I can instruct kids and help them improve their skills to become better players and to prepare them for maybe making the “A” team next year and for senior high school basketball in the future,” the coach said.
While she said she enjoyed playing the game, Fryk realized quickly that her petite size resulted in a big disadvantage in a game that, for all intents and purposes, is designed for taller athletes. However it’s certainly nothing new to see coaches towered over by their players at the very highest level of the game including the National Basketball Association (NBA) or even more evident at the major collegiate level of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the United States.
As for a particular style of coaching, Fryk said it’s all about having fun even if it might involve a bit of learning along the way for her players.
“I like to make sure that when the girls are on the sidelines I tell them to keep playing hard and stay optimistic – even if we’re getting beaten a bit, it’s not a big deal as long as they’re having fun,” she said. “I make sure I’m not too hard on them because they’re just learning skills for down the road as basketball players.”
While her first year as a coach resulted in just one regular season win, the team finished in third place in a recent tournament and despite record of the team this season, everyone had a lot of fun and Fryk said she saw some major improvement in her players, and at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters.
“We did really well and it was a lot of fun. It was also great to see some of the girls who have improved so much,” she said. “We have one girl who had never touched the ball when she joined the team and was even scared of it, but now she’s out there ripping the ball out of the other player’s hands and running with it down the floor, so it was a lot of fun to see them laughing and really enjoying themselves.”