Nicolas Gaillard: A Story of My Little Pink Penguins

Nicolas Gaillard is a 47 years old French man who loves hockey. As a matter of fact, he made all his family be actively into it. Gaillard is a hockey coach, his son plays ice hockey on the HC Morzine-Avoriaz U11 team, and for the Ice Hockey Select HC 74. His wife Amandine is also involved in hockey, working as a team leader. An average day of the Gaillard’s family starts with hockey plans, practices and different sports activities, and ends with the hockey programs for the next day. They live for hockey, and this sport takes one of the most important places in their lives.

Nicolas Gaillard

 HOW A HOCKEY PLAYER HAS BECOME A COACH 

I started playing ice hockey 40 years ago and never really stopped until now. I played hockey actively for a long time, over 20 years, in my former hometown ice hockey association, in Poitiers, France. At that time, we played in the second French Division. 

After having my player’s career finished, I worked for a sport travel agency and used to travel across the world. The agency I’ve worked for was specialized in ice hockey events, like The Quebec international Pee Wee Tournament and others. Eight years after ending my players career, in 2012, I decided to come back to hockey. But, this time I chose to be on a bench of my former club, coaching younger players (5 to 13 year old), as well as the senior French Division 3rd Team.

The Skoda Arena in Morzine, France

I’m a licensed coach for the players under 13, and I’m actually working with the French Federation to get my DE diploma (which will enable me to coach the kids under 5, as well as the pro teams). 

AN ATTRACTIVE JOB OFFER

Three years ago, I quit my coaching job in Poitiers. One day, an actual Sports Manager from Morzine phoned me and asked if I was interested in working there, together with him. I was aware that Morzine was and still is a great ice hockey place in France, so his offer pleasantly surprised me. (Honestly, I’m still proud to be an active member of this organization, being able to actively participate in creating its sports history

They are always ready for the new challenges. – Nicolas Gaillard with his pink penguins

 THE ONLY MISSING PIECE WERE – PLAYERS

But at that time I was not sure if it would work and fit with the organization in Morzine. I was thinking of our lovely home village in the French Alps, as well as of an opportunity to work properly with the kids. The sport manager of our club Loïc Gaydon accepted to increase the number of the younger players. I knew we had stuff to make hockey and work drills fun for them. The only missing piece were – players.

So, we started visiting schools over here, animating the kids to start practicing hockey.  We even made some special events, together with the Town and Club Committee,  and the French Ice Hockey Federation. And finally – it worked. We gathered a lot of young kids interested in hockey, especially girls.

The Pink Penguins Team is the only one of that age in the French Ica Hockey Association

THE FIGHTERS IN THE PINK JERSEYS

We managed to gather little girls around the valley, and even from some other places nearby. There are girls of 4 different nationalities in our club: French, Serbian, Scottish and Welsh. Currently, we have 32 girls of different ages: the oldest was born in 2004, and the youngest one is 5 years old. The majority of them play on the U9 and U7 teams. Of course, some of them are playing for both selections.

Unfortunately, we are the only club in France having female players of that age, so we can play only against the boys, in a boys championship. But, occasionally our little fighters put their pink jerseys on, and compete  at some tournaments. Most often they are the only girls team there.

Nicolas Gaillard: ‘It was a long walk and fight for having all these girls in our club. My dream finally came true.”

Looking from this position, it was a long walk and fight for having all these girls in our club. I’d dreamed of that for a long time, and it finally came true. Now we have a lot of girls and parents here, and we are all a happy community that is growing and becoming stronger every day. 

THE MOMENTS I GLADLY REMEMBER

While working and playing with my pink penguins, I had a lot of precious moments and unforgettable memories. These young fighters always make my day better and completely fulfilled. We laugh a lot and feel great whenever we win or score a goal. I always gladly remember the moment when I’d shown the girls their brand new jerseys. I saw a pride in their eyes, and it was an amazing feeling.  The very first moment when they all together jumped on the ice as a team, during an U9 tournament in our rink, the Skoda Arena is something that I will also never forget.

‘I always gladly remember the moment when I’d shown the girls their brand new jerseys. I saw a pride in their eyes, and it was an amazing feeling.”

One of my dearest memories is the first goal scored by our team, by Mina, a little Serbian player. As far as I know, her mother was a skier, competing 4 times for Serbia at Olympics.

IT IS NOT EASY TO SEE OUR GIRLS BEING CRUSHED

Of course, it is not easy for anyone of us to see our girls being crushed. I feel very bad in these situations, but eventually I try to make some lessons from it, and turn it to the brighter side of life. They are young and they get so disappointed whenever they lose a game. But, they listen to the coaches and team managers, and always try to be better in the next game. I truly believe they will be a great team one day. And I hope they will perform as a team at the U7-U9 Tournament in Annecy, in May 2018.

Anyway, the best feeling ever is the fire in the eyes of my teams when they come out of the locker room, like an army in the battle mode. But it’s still a game, isn’t it ?  🙂

 A DREAM OF BEATING A BOYS’ TEAM

In my future, I’m planning to continue to work with kids, both boys and girls, and develop their skills and hockey mind. We have a lot to do, but every day is a new opportunity to be better than the day before. One of my dreams is to finally beat a boys’ team with my pink penguins, and I’m completely sure it is not far away. So, dear boys, you should  watch out.

‘I always tell my little pink ladies to work and play hard.”

A FUTURE GIRLS TOURNAMENT IN THE FRENCH ALPS?

My pink team is very adorable, and we draw attention and sympathy whenever we show up. Recently the girls received video messages from Nicole Court (A You tube star aka Beer League Beauty https://drive.google.com/file/d/1NQgW5TfURGB7bGHtVbDP1WngcTjlmBYH/view?usp=drive_web ) and from Florence Schilling (a goalie of the Swiss National Team https://drive.google.com/file/d/1oMV1nMT0FVV_aBtkKJ5BcbdMpzT0FOS1/view?usp=drive_web) and we hope more is to come. We are so happy for it, and our plan is to continue working very hard and become stronger every day. We hope we’ll be able to make a girl U9 tournament one day here in the French Alps.

 IF HE’D SKATED FASTER, HE COULD BE LIKE A GIRL TOO 

I always tell my little pink ladies to work and play hard. I love their diligence, dedication and a fighting competitive spirit. But most of all I like this quote: “Once a boy had told me that I skated like a girl. I answered him if he’d skated faster, he could be like a girl too”. 😀 

 

 

 

Camilla Rehn: It Is an Honor for Me to Train Hockey Players

Camilla Rehn is not a hockey player. But, in her life, a lot of things revolve around ice hockey. First of all, Camilla is a hockey mom. Her kids, Daniel (14) and Emma (11) are both hockey players. This amazing 39-year-old Swede is also a personal full time coach, who often works with hockey players as well. Currently, she is a strength coach of the women’s hockey team Linkoping (LHC). In the summer she also works with male hockey players who want to achieve the best possible fitness level for the upcoming hockey season. At the same time, Camilla also helps her son’s hockey team with pre-season workouts.

According to her friends and clients, Milla is an eternally young person who radiates enormous energy, power and wisdom, motivating athletes and other people to work continuously, not only on their performance, strength and endurance, but on the everyday lifestyle as well. She inspires many young girls to become stronger, not just physically but mentally as well, and encourages their self-confidence. Milla brings the sparkle that ignites the fire in the heart of every human and athlete, and you just cannot stay indifferent to that.

Camilla Rehn – An eternally young person who helps others in achieving their goals

I HATED PHYSICAL ACTIVITIES AS A KID

When I was a kid,  I hated physical activities. But when I turned 12, I started playing soccer. One day my coach asked me what I had liked  more, the pre-season tough workout in the gym, or the actual soccer season. I immediately answered: ‘The gym.”  Since that time I changed my focus from the soccer field to the gym and a group training.

WORKING WITH ATHLETES IS ALWAYS A CHALLENGE

I decided to become a personal trainer because I strive to help others succeed in achieving their goals. I don’t have an exact number of the people I have been training. But I’m doing personal workouts with 5-6 different people per day.  After that, I work with the girls’ hockey players from the Linköpings HC. If I want them to be in the best physical condition. As a strength coach I must have good communication skills and work together with their head coach. This has worked great so far this season, with the women’s hockey team LHC. Their head coach Madde Östling is a former hockey player, so she knows very well what it takes. 

ALWAYS WORK OUT TO MAKE A PROGRESS

My most valuable principle is to always have clear goals, and practice in order to make a progress. No matter how big your next step is, it’s important to go further. When I work with regular clients, it often happens that they aren’t 100% focused on their diet and training, and I can understand that. But when I work with athletes who are at a higher training level, every practice is a challenge, for me as well as for them. During hard workouts, I usually have to force the athletes to take a break and rest.  They have to be willing to rest their bodies if they want to perform the best when it really counts. It is an honor for me to train hockey players. The job is fun and challenging.

MEN JUST DO WHAT I SAY

The biggest difference between training men and women is that the men always just do what I say.  The women always ask why they have to do a certain exercise. They always give suggestions about what they want to do. But there is another important thing. When it comes to the training schedule for women, I really have to think of it. Most often they don’t have enough time to recover after a hard workout, because many of them work a normal job, and then have household and parental duties. It leaves them with less time for other personal activities.

‘Working with athletes is always fun and challenging.”

HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY

Otherwise, I think it’s pretty similar working with men and women. In my case, honesty is the best policy. I am a direct person, and I always say what I think. If you want to make a progress, there is no place for making things softer and easier. If I see someone’s doing a great job, I say it. On the other hand, if I think someone needs to step it up and work harder, I say that too.

SOME GOOD AND NOT SO GOOD MEMORIES

I have many great memories since I’ve become a personal coach.  One of them is a woman who had problems with her shoulder and couldn’t sleep well at nights because of it for many years. After 6 months working with me, she quit taking pain killers and was able to train harder then ever. Another memory is of a man with diabetes.  After only a month of adjusting his diet and training hard, he only had to take one insulin dose per day, instead of previous numerous daily doses.

My worst memory was when I led my first aerobics class.  I was only 14 years old, very frightened and nervous. I remember I threw up before it.

‘To be successful, you have to love what you do.”

MENTAL TRAINING FOR THE RIGHT ‘MODE”

To be successful in any sport, you have to love what you do.  At the same time, you must always have a clear goal, and stay focused on it.  I often work on mental training with my clients who are going through a lifestyle change. I know for sure that many athletes do the mental exercises from time to time, but I think it should be more often. That’s the best way to be in the right ’mode’.

EAT TO DELIVER

When it comes to diet and nutrition, all athletes must eat well, so that they can give their best at training. Think smart. You don’t fill your car up with water. Eat to deliver. If you do this correctly, you will not be a gentle and vulnerable human being; you will be a ’machine’. In my opinion, it is very useful to take protein as a nutritional supplement.

For example, it is awesome to add 1 spoon of whey protein to your oatmeal when you eat your breakfast. Also, you can take it again between the meals, just to make sure that you have the energy to perform! And- never forget how important the carbs are.

Unfortunately, I meet many young people (especially girls) who avoid carbohydrates because they think it’s bad for their bodies.  But you need to eat good carbohydrates before AND after every training and game. Think smart.

‘If you want to make a progress, you must have a clear goal and work hardest you can.”

THE WINNERS ARE THE HARDEST AND SMARTEST WORKERS

It would be so great if women’s hockey got more money so they could, for example, have access to full time personal trainers, massage therapists, nutritionists etc.  These women fight so hard to be the best and I am really impressed by their love for the sport.

At the end, my message to all athletes would be: Those who train the hardest and smartest – they win! The question is, is it you? Do you train smart? Do you dare to rest? Do you watch what you eat? Think about it. Think smart.

 

 

 

 

Jozsef Forintos: I Want to Finally Learn How to Skate

Jozsef Forintos from Hungary is the biggest women’s hockey fan I’ve ever met.  Whenever a women’s hockey game is played in Hungary, he is always present. He is the one that sings when everyone is silent,  and the one who supports girls no matter if they lose or win. When it comes to women’s hockey, Jozsi is never tired, ill or in the bad mood. Wearing a national team jersey, with a supportive smile on his face, he’s always somewhere on the stands, ready to cheer on the girls. And the girls know that, and they respect and love Jozsi.

Jozsef Forintos

YES, I AM THAT CRAZY FUN

Yes, I am that crazy fan who always follows Hungarian female hockey players in their games and competitions. Of course, I always bring my drum with me, as well as a Hungarian flag, and the hope that we will win. I’m always trying to cheer the team up, and to motivate other funs to do the same.

Jozsi with Hungarian players, Asiago 2016

I was born in 1974, in Veszprém in Hungary. Since I can remember, I always loved hockey. Earlier, however, I watched only male hockey, because the Hungarian women’s team did not even exist. It was only in 2011, when a good friend of mine invited me to a game that I got to see women’s hockey. It was a game of the regular Hungarian league,  the Wildcats against the Marilyn. I was pleasently surprised! Those girls were fighting with the same intensity, perhaps even harder than the boys. They gave their best in order to win the game. Since then, I started to watch women’s hockey whenever I could. It became my passion.

WOMEN’S HOCKEY, YOU  EITHER LOVE IT OR YOU DON’T! 

Later on, I realized I feel like the ice hockey arena  gets me into the best mood.  I’ve became aware of the fact that, whenever both the women’s and the men’s teams had games at the same time, I would always chose for the girls team. Why? For those who have never been able to watch a women’s hockey game, it is hard to explain. And for those who like watching the girls playing hockey, there is no need to explain anything. 🙂 You love it or you don’t. That is all there is to it.

The first ever World Championship’s game I watched live was in Budapest, on the 31st March  2012. I remember, it was a Hungary vs. New Zeland game, and I watched it with my friend Attila Molnár. Our team won the game, with a 5-1 final score. That event was also the first time I got my first hockey souvenir, a scarf and a hockey puck.

His first photo with Hungarian hockey players, Lili Pinter and Andrea Kiss

I FOUND MYSELF FEELING SO GOOD IN SUCH A GREAT COMPANY

Later on, in 2014 the U18 Worlds of the Top Division was held in Budapest. I had the honor to watch live the world’s best girl’s players of the time: Canadians, Americans, Russians, Swedes etc. I was there to support our national team during every single game they played. It was a chance to meet the girls’ parents, and I found myself feeling so good in such a great company. And a year after that, I found myself with those parents in a mini-van, travelling to the Worlds in Vaujany, France. We spent an unforgettable week there, visiting the snowy mountains and, of course, supporting our great girls.

Jozsef Forintos: I felt so good in such a great company!

VOLUNTEERING FOR THE HUNGARIAN HOCKEY FEDERATION

In 2016 and 2017 the U18 Worlds was again held in Hungary, so it was not even a question if I was going to be there. Moreover, in 2017 I had the chance to volunteer for the Hungarian Ice Hockey Federation. My tasks included providing fresh fruits and water for the teams, and helping out with their laundry. After the Worlds, I received a memorial certificate with Renl Fasel’s signature.

I also followed the senior select team to Asiago (2016), and to Graz (2017). And I travelled again with the familiar group of parents, and we had a lot of fun and unforgettable moments together.

A memorial certificate with Renl Fasel’s signature.

I HAVE NEVER FORGOTTEN TO BRING CHOCOLATES 

After each hockey game, I typically throw chocolates on the ice. This was a tradition at men’s hockey games in Hungary, a way for fans to express their commitment to the team at the end of the game. I like that custom a lot, so I always buy chocolates before hockey games. And, no, I have never forgotten to bring them with me. Moreover, I always have extras in my pockets as well, in case I meet some players after the game personally. Giving them chocolates makes me really happy.

 I RAN A MARATHON FOR THEM!

Currently I live in a small town close to Budapest. Earlier, I played judo and I volunteered at an animal shelters. Besides hockey, I like running. Honestly, I started running because of the girls. During the Worlds in 2015, I promised  ro run a marathon if the girls finish it with a medal. Unfortunately, they failed to get a medal, but I didn’t want to break my promise. So, I run the marathon for them!

JERSEYS –  THE MOST VALUABLE PRESENTS

Being a hockey fun, I had the privilege to get many gifts from different players. I have a lot of IIHF and foreign pucks, T-shirts, jerseys, caps and other dear souvenirs. One of my most precious is a T-shirt I got in 2016, with a team photo and signatures on it. I also got key rings from Kata Gérnyi, and from Charlotte Girard, which is a special honor for me. In 2017 the National team sent me nice video with birthday wishes from their preparation camp. At the Worlds in Graz last year, Zsófi gave me her ‘player of the game’ cake. However, as for all fans, the most valuable presents are the jerseys I got from Dorottya Medgyes’sAndi Kiss’s club jersey from Switzerland, Sarolt Csiszer’s and Detty Holzer’s KMH jersey, designed for a unique event

Jerseys, as the most valuable presents

I WANT TO FINALLY LEARN HOW TO SKATE!

In the near future, in April I plan to visit again Vaujany, because of the next Worlds. I expect a lot of good games and fun there. I also want to finally learn how to skate 🙂

Last but not least, I want to thank you for the chance to share my story, feelings I have and memories I gained with the national teams. I want to encourage everybody to support women’s hockey and to become a member of our great community!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miguel Poissant – a Canadian boxer who’s been teaching girls how to fight

Miguel Poissant is a 28 years old Canadian, who’s been playing and coaching ice hockey whole life, and finally became – a professional boxer. Maybe it sounds weird to other people, but for him it is such a normal thing. As he likes to say, it is important to be a sportsman, to fight honestly and with the passion, always trying to win. Whether it is hockey, golf or boxing, that is less important.

A DREAM OF A LITTLE BOY POISSANT

When I was a boy, I dreamed of appearing on the Sports Channel. At that time I was a hockey player. I remember I was watching Montreal Canadiens with my father Daniel, and told him, one day I’m gonna be on TV as well. And I’ve fulfilled my promise, but not as a hockey player or a coach, but as a professional boxer.

Miguel Poissant (Instagram: mig_boxe)

I play hockey since I was 3. Last year I was playing in the Waterloo Bar Le Devin club, and this season I am the member of the Marieville Red Knights, in the LHSR (Ligue de Hockey Sénior du Richelieu), in Canada.

Two years ago, I became a hockey coach as well. I was an assistant of the head coach for midget BB (boys). I was also a head coach for bantam AA and midget AA (girls ) in the Ligue de Hockey Feminine de Developpement Quebec.

Considering hockey, there are huge diferences between boys and girls. Boys are physically stronger, their game is much faster, the competition among them is far more expressed than girls. As their coach, you have to be much tougher.

Miguel Poissant and  The Remparts

TEACHING GIRLS TO FIGHT

Girls are much more emotional. Sometimes it is easy to deal with it, sometimes more difficult. But they are definitely more open to tips. If you demonstrate a shot, a boy will not ask much questions, but he will think he can do it better. A girl will look at you very carefully, and ask for advice how to do it best.. They have a totally different approach to the game. You do not need to have a tough character in order to coach a girl hockey player. Due to the fact the contact is not allowed in the game, they develope some other qualities. I’ve used to have a girl player who had been playing with the boys. When she came into my team, she was sitting on the bench the whole first part of the season. She could not resist to play without contacts, and the referees were constantly punishing her. Later on, she became one of the best player of the team.

I want to tell you that coaching those girls was the part of the AA elite hockey, just one level lower then University hockey. After college, Canadian girls hockey players have 2 options: Canadian university, or NCAA. My objective was to see them playing at the highest level.  But, maybe 5% of my girls gonna make it that far.

Miguel with his father Daniel Poissant

TODAY I’M LIVING MY DREAM

I quit coaching girls because of my boxing. I was turning pro, and didn’t have time to do both jobs. Elite coaching takes so much time, so I couldn’t make it. I do not regret it, because today I’m living my dream. From the other side, I still play high level hockey for my age. But I surely miss coaching. Today boxing is the main part of my life. I am working very hard, and my only goal is to enjoy the ride, and retire healthy.

 At the end, I would like to say I really don’t know when will I stop playing hockey. But I definitely know if i become a dad one day, I will not coach my kid! I don’t want to be subjective, and my wish is to let my kid grow by his/her own in the hockey world. And let him or her live the experience that they have to live by themselves! But I will always be there for support and quick tips.

That was the story of a professional boxer, and I’ve really enjoyed writing it. At the end I want to share one of the photos I’ve found in Miguel’s photo album. I don’t know who’s the author, but I hope he will not be mad at me for sharing it.

How dalmatians have learned to play ice hockey

If I’ve told you Canadian girls can play a super hockey, I wouldn’t tell you nothing new: everybody knows that.

But the story gets a different craft if I tell you that the Dalmatians can play hockey either, although they are dogs.

Averi Nooren, Stephanie Nehring, Stacey Scott are Canadians, Amie Varano is from United States, and Jelena Grkovic is Hungarian Serb. They all play ice hockey for KMH from Budapest, and live together in a same apartment. Some of them are students, the other have finished their colleges. Like all other girls their age, they like to go out, play cards, dance, travel and so many other things.

But, when it comes to the Halloween, they all become dalmatians and with their Cruella Deville, go to pet friendly ice hockey parties. 🙂