Jim Scanlan knows a little something about dealing with adversity. His Bemidji State women’s hockey team started the 2018-19 season with no wins in its first 10 games, going 0-9-1.
“There was no finger pointing, no complaining,” said Scanlan, a Cottage Grove native and former Bemidji State goaltender. “They came to the rink every single day and worked hard.”
Sure enough, things began to turn around in November, and the Beavers won eight of their next 13 games.
Here are his tips for getting through the tough times and avoiding the dreaded blame game.
Bad call? Rough loss? Coaches and parents should set an example.
“They have to be adults and remember that their sons and daughters are playing a game,” Scanlan said. “When things go bad, it’s really important to keep in mind a positive attitude. Every day is an opportunity to get better. They, as adults, need to preach that to players.
“It’s really important to have a short memory. When players make mistakes, a pat on the back or a short whisper can go a lot further than screaming and yelling.”
“Evaluate the performance, not the scoreboard,” he said. “Point out the positives of the game. The next day is a new day; it’s a new opportunity to step forward. The goal is to be playing your very best hockey at the end of the year. You can’t have the roller coaster. Stay even-keel. Feed off the positivity of everyone in the program. That will help you get through the challenging times.”
Don’t let losing streaks and scorings slumps have a negative effect on the locker room.
For coaches: “If you’re coming in the next day with a mopey attitude, the players are going to see it,” he said. “Good coaches have good attitudes every single day. If a team sees it, it’s going to feed off it.”
For players: “Be a leader. Work hard. Be a great teammate. Pick each other up. Be there for each other. The coach is going to have his or her opinion, but the locker room is yours. We have strong leaders and high-quality players. It’s a great group of young women who get along are upbeat, have their teammates’ backs. Encourage your teammates. A pat on the back can go a long way.”
“In all my career, I’ve never seen a referee say, ‘Yeah, you’re right,’ and change the call,” Scanlan said. “Things are going to happen that you can’t control. Don’t let them derail what you do. I try to remind players to stay in the moment. You can’t get distracted by what happened on the last shift. Think about what you can do differently.”
Scanlan recalled his days as a high school athletic director and coach and seeing struggling players at school who were down in the dumps.
“You have to remember that the sport and how you do doesn’t define you as a person,” he said. “In all competition, go out and do the best you can.
“Think of the big picture. You’re playing a game here. It’s not life and death. Do the best you can. Things are going to go wrong—in hockey and in life. There are always two things you can control: your attitude and your effort.”