Ryan Hawes believes the time he spent with the Osoyoos Coyotes last season was key in landing the assistant coach role with the expansion Okanagan Lakers in the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League.
“If I didn’t have that opportunity, I wouldn’t have been able to get this shot with the Lakers,” says Hawes, a former defenceman whose playing resume includes time in the B.C. Hockey League, Western Hockey League and a pro stint in the Western Professional Hockey League with the San Angelo Outlaws. “It was an awesome stepping stone for me. The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) is a great league.”
Hawes learned from the coaches they played against from how they approach things. Working with Coyotes head coach Carter Rigby and Coyotes hockey consultant John DePourcq helped Hawes learn a lot. He ran some Coyotes practices for Rigby and learned how to approach players, game situations, adjust on the fly and communicate.
Hawes says the KIJHL is a good stepping stone for coaches because of how well he saw the league run. He had a positive experience with the Coyotes, especially because he was able to give input. He also liked that you can learn from mistakes.
“If they don’t work, you can try something else,” he says. “It’s a competitive league, but if you make a couple of mistakes, it’s a forgiving league, too and moving on from your mistakes pretty easily.”
Hawes also learned from his previous coaches how he would do things different. He sees himself as a players coach and wants his players to be able to talk to him.
“If a player is not getting any ice time, I’m going to pull him aside and tell him exactly what they have to do to get more ice time,” says Hawes, who is more about building a culture and the players playing and winning for each other.
Working alongside head coach Kevin Bathurst, Hawes will be responsible for the defenceman and penalty killing units. He cares about making a positive impact with the players by building a positive, hard working culture. The Coquitlam native says this opportunity is huge for him as he wants a future in hockey as a coach and this is almost a dream come true.
“It leads me on the path that I want to go,” says Hawes, 44. “I have a lot to offer the players from my experiences on what to do and not to do. I can help guide them in their careers as well.”
Hawes, who works in sales, is excited to be part of a new program.
“I have never been involved with a team where it started from zero,” says Hawes “It seems to be a lot of hype. Being a part of the hype is amazing so far. People are calling and congratulating me.”