By: Greg Revak
Hockey is the most important, unimportant thing most of us will ever do.
I repeat, “hockey is the most important, unimportant thing.”
Only a small fraction of people make a career out of hockey. That doesn’t mean playing hockey is pointless. We play hockey because it brings joy to our lives. If you ask a player, parent, or coach what they miss the most, they will inevitably come back to their shared experience with the team.
As we age, we come to the realization that hockey is really a vehicle to transfer valuable life lessons to players, coaches, and parents. That is why hockey is the most important, unimportant thing.
When we all realize that fact, we’ll never think of the sport the same way again.
I was fortunate enough to have a wonderful mentor who helped me understand that fact before I even left college. While playing there, I was frustrated that we weren’t doing much to prepare for the end of our competitive hockey careers.
For my career, I chose to become a Financial Advisor. However, I anticipated that someday I would become a Coach so that I could give back to the game that taught me so many lessons.
“Be the change you want to see in the world”
My mentor, Matt “Cookie” Koch, was an assistant coach when I played at the University of Akron. Two years after I graduated, he became the head coach and asked me to join him on his staff.
Our first class yielded 22 freshmen. A mere three returned for the next season.
I was frustrated as we did everything coaches are supposed to do… we encouraged going to class, asked about grades, told them where free tutoring was on campus, gave time for studying, etc. That still wasn’t enough.
We concluded that we needed to offer more. There had to be a way to show the players how to become more than a hockey player, more than a student, more than a video gamer. We had to teach them how to become a successful adult.
We decided to be the change we wanted to see in the world. Life University (LifeU) was born.
The next season we implemented “LifeU” before our Monday night practices. In a nutshell, LifeU covers practical topics young people need but won’t get in school. It gives young people tools to live life better.
Here are a few examples of what we cover:
How to be a standout employee
Differences between being an employer vs employee
Relationships and marriage
We also bring in business owners who also played hockey and have them teach the players how to translate their hockey skills into business skills.
LifeU has been an unbelievable success.
In our season ending exit meetings with players, we ask their opinions on the value of everything we do as a program. Their feedback on LifeU has always been overwhelmingly and enthusiastically positive.
We’d love to see this in other programs across the country. For school compliance reasons we don’t have our LifeU agendas posted, but email me at GregJRevak@gmail.com and I will happily pass that along. We are an open book on this and will share everything
For more, we recently were on 2 podcasts talking about LifeU and the ethos our program has:
Matt “Cookie” Koch was featured on “The Teacher Coach”
Cookie + Revak joint “OnAir” by the OhioHockeyDigest (Start a the 1hr mark)
You can check out our LifeU webpage here: