- Created: 31 May 2016
The Eugene Generals Offseason Development Program is in full swing as Generals coaches continue to work with players throughout the spring and summer, and the results are already paying off.
Entering the offseason, Generals coaches and staff met together to discuss potential options and ideas for continuing players' individual development despite the season having concluded weeks ago.
"Players at this age don't focus enough on offseason training," says Eugene Generals GM Flint Doungchak "You should spend the offseason preparing for the season. Too many players use the beginning of the season to get in shape. Worse yet, there are players who play hockey year-round. We wanted to create a more well-rounded program that allows our players to focus on development of the human body and become better athletes. Then when we hit the ice in August, our players have the best chance to be the best hockey players that they can be."
Together with Head Coach Justin Kern and Assistant Coach Daniel Gomez, the trio crafted a rigorously detailed workout plan with a structure largely devised from Gomez's past (and present) as a United States Marine. When the structure had been determined, the Eugene Generals Offseason Development Program centered around four primary concentrations: weight training, conditioning, stick handling and power skating.
"When one season ends, the next season immediately begins," says Head Coach Justin Kern, "and that's the primary point we wanted to hammer home to our players. We want them to understand that the process of making oneself better is year-round, not just part-time or when its convenient. But more than just helping the players understand that hard work is not optional but necessary, we also want them to realize that we are here to provide a structure and support system to help make their goals a reality."
In all, players in attendance spent nearly two hours every weekday working intensely on each of the four aformentioned areas, with workouts varying constantly in order to provide players with a diverse set of workouts while also ensuring that they were able to properly recover and refuel.
After six weeks of training five days a week with the Generals' coaching staff, Generals players Cody Arbelovsky, Baxter Cox, Jack Geisler, and Jack Thornton travelled together to Minnesota along with Head Coach Justin Kern and GM Flint Doungchak. There, the the group attended a camp with the Fairbanks Ice Dogs, the defending North American Hockey League champion, and Generals players in attendance tested their skills in a high-intensity, high-performance atmosphere.
Generals players traveling as a unit en route to Dakotah! Ice Center in Prior Lake, Minnesota
"Quite simply, organizing something like this, beginning to end, is virtually unprecedented for a team at this level," said Flint Doungchak proudly. "From our franchise's perspective, it shows the public that unlike teams in other leagues, we in Eugene and the USPHL (United States Premier Hockey League) as a whole truly embody that principle. In establishing this program, our staff truly went the extra mile, which has become the standard among the incredible group of people we have within our franchise."
"By traveling with the players themselves," Kern added, "we operated as a 'family unit' during our time in Minnesota, providing a level of structure and support that we feel is unmatched across the Junior Hockey landscape. From the perspective of our players, this affords them the opportunity to guage where they are on the developmental spectrum and see firsthand the specific parts of their game that they need to focus on. They were surrounded by fellow fantastic players all weekend long, and atmospheres like that quickly bring out the best AND the worst in a player, thereby helping them get a clear picture of how they've progressed, but also what skills they still need to continue developing and honing."
In essence, the Eugene Generals Offseason Development Program centered around one core theme: How serious are you? It's a question that Generals coaches asked of their players, but also one that was asked by Generals coaches of themselves. "Players and parents always hear the lip service that teams give about player advancement," Doungchak continued, "but how many teams put their money where their mouth is? Many teams say they'll serve their players as a springboard when in reality they operate more like an anchor. If a team is truly all about player development and advancement, then what better way to showcase that?"
"Being with the coaches and with boys was just really relaxing," recalled Generals forward Baxter Cox, "and it helped me get into my game a lot easier than I would have if it was just me there alone. The main goal was to see where we stood in the grand scheme of things, especially since we're over here on the West Coast. Looking back, I really felt like we were right with the pack, definitely in the upper half of the players there. Seeing that firsthand was really rewarding, but it was also really motivating at the same time. It made me wanna get back to Oregon and work even harder to keep getting better."
Now back in the Emerald Valley, players will resume their off-ice workouts and conditioning while eagerly anticipating the ice's return in mid-August. Workouts will continue to be tailored to individual players' needs while maintaining a high level of intensity and competitiveness heading into the Generals twelfth season.