Dallas Calvin’s first season as an assistant coach with the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters resulted in a lot of learning.
The Beaver Valley Nitehawks alum began coaching when his playing career ended in 2018-19, joining the BCIHL’s Selkirk Saints the following year as an assistant coach for a season. He has also coached in minor hockey, which he was already committed to last season when the opportunity to join the Smoke Eaters presented itself.
“It’s always been in the back of my mind to move up and coach at a higher level. I got the opportunity late in August and it’s kind of one I couldn’t turn down,” said Calvin, a Trail native, who put up 273 points in 165 KIJHL regular season games. “Just the opportunity to be at that level and learn from experienced coaches and around some higher-end players was an easy decision for me.”
It was a good first year that was “a lot of fun”, but he also admitted it was a big adjustment from playing as he just completed his third season as a coach. Calvin hoped for more success for the Smoke Eaters, who handed the Penticton Vees their lone loss during the BCHL playoffs en route to a Fred Page Cup championship. Injuries impacted the Smoke Eaters but Calvin says they are building for the coming season.
Calvin, who also played four years in the BCIHL with the Selkirk Saints and Vancouver Island University, said having playing experience is huge as a coach.
“It’s a different perspective for even the players on the team. Having a guy that has been around it recently and able to transfer some of that knowledge helps those guys grow and get better,” he said. “It was a good opportunity for me to learn a lot about coaching as well. It’s a completely different side of the game than playing is.”
Calvin has a level of respect from the players because of his experience and is able to connect with them. During practice, he works with the forwards on specific drills and the power-play. He also helps mentor players what it’s like living away from home and getting through the grind of a season.
Calvin felt he performed well in his role.
“I have a ton to learn,” said Calvin, who leans on Smoke Eaters Head Coach & GM Tim Fragle and Associate Coach Dustin Korlak.
He has other mentors that he talks to, including his former Nitehawks Head Coach Terry Jones, who he speaks to often. Calvin, who won a KIJHL and Western Canadian Championship with Beaver Valley, has learned what it is like on the other side and said as a player “you don’t realize the amount of work that goes into it.”
“There are long hours and scouting to find players,” he said. “There is so much that goes into building a team and helping players progress. It was an eye-opener.”