The following questions were answered by Marty Conley, the head coach of the Burlington girls hockey team that recently clinched a postseason berth for the first time in program history.
What has been the key to the team's success this year, making the postseason for the first time ever?
Some of that experience that we gained last year when were still really young helped. Having the year of varisty was helpful for the big group of eighth graders we had. It’s essentially the same team this year, and that extra year has been huge. It’s a much different level going from girls youth hockey to varisty. The other part is the girls confidence growing in themselves and each other as the season has gone along. They can see for themselves they were improving, and their confidence grew. A big focus was teaching the girls what it takes to win hockey games. Sometimes you have to learn what it takes to win games.
What do you enjoy most about coaching?
It’s just a great group of girls. They always have a positive attitude and get along extremely well. They enjoy coming to the rink. I don’t have to talk to them about working hard. From a coach’s perspective, it makes my job a lot easier. I enjoy coming to the rink when I know they want to be there as much as I do.
What do you enjoy most about the sport of hockey?
I think it’s a game that combines a lot of things that appeal to me. It requires you play with a high level of intensity, a lot of emotion, a lot of passion. You also have the ability to play with a lot of creativity. It’s a very competitive sport and a very emotional sport. I enjoy getting them fired up and motivated. That’s because the emotional part is a big factor.
How much does it fuel the girls program seeing the success of the Burlington boys hockey team?
For a long time, the boys have been a very successful program and have wanted to see the girls do well. One of the nice things the night we clinched our playoff spot was that the boys were playing after us, and they were crowded around our end of the ice watching the last few minutes of the game. Usually the last minute or two they leave to get ready, but they hung around to the end. It was fun to see them jumping up and down and banging the glass. It's more being supportive than it is competition. We want to see them do well, we’re grateful to get that support.
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