If you didn’t understand English and Jaime Grossman started reading the phone book to you, you would feel a strange urge to get out on the ice and give it your all. He speaks with the kind of vim distinctive to hockey coaches, and after 25 years of giving tips, encouragement, and rinkside pep talks, it is perfected. He has now coached the Eagles, the Eden Prairie High School girls hockey team, for one decade.
“I spent my younger years trying to get out of school,” said coach Jaime. “It’s funny that I’d wind up back here again! I only went to college to play hockey and football, and eventually picked psychology when I had to choose a major. That didn’t turn out great for job prospects, but at least it helped me understand how people work.
“Some people think all hockey coaches just want to get a guy into the NHL, but coaching girls must feel just as rewarding. Helping young women understand that they can be better, achieve more, and reach and exceed their goals -- that fire burns inside me and keeps me going. I live to watch them discover what they’re capable of, and build the confidence they need to succeed in life.
“As an educator, my main goal isn’t winning the title. (But it is nice when we do.) No, it’s about developing future leaders. We live in a society where too many parents try to protect their kids from everything, but you don’t want your daughter to deal with her first big mistake on their own. She has to learn to embrace setbacks and launch herself at her problems twice as hard afterward. The discipline and respect that comes with playing hockey teaches young women how to fall forward. As long as they’re doing that they’re learning and growing, and they’re always going to come out of a challenge better off for it.
“I love two things most about coaching young women. First, I get to be a positive male role model, something a lot of kids don’t have in their lives these days. Second, girls naturally do a great job of listening and trying to do exactly what I draw out. Sometimes they listen to a fault, in fact, focusing so hard on following steps that they don’t realize when they need to improvise. Hockey’s too fast-paced a sport to rely on set plays, so it teaches girls how to really think on their feet.
“Another thing I like is that girls don’t get as hung up on checking as the boys do. There’s still some physical contact, sure, but girls get to focus more on the technical aspects of the sport. That’s true hockey in my opinion: teammates who understand how to work together and play off each other’s strengths. And these kids are only getting more and more skilled every year. Compared to when I first started out, girl’s hockey has become amazing!
“I get to spend time on the ice with kids as young as eight years old. It lets me learn what makes them tick so I can help them develop to their fullest potential when they reach high school. I have seniors who can’t believe that I remember them playing ten years ago, but that’s the kind of benefit that only comes from working for the community for so long.
“As the father of a young daughter myself, the greatest compliment I can receive is ‘You’re like a second dad to me.’ Helping the girls of Eden Prairie to become great women is the highest honor I could ever hope for.”