BY LINDSAY BRISCOE
With 25 years of experience both playing and coaching junior hockey in Saskatchewan and Alberta, Derek Sweet-Coulter is ready to head east and head up the English River Miners as the team’s new head coach and general manager.
“I’m really excited for this opportunity. I enjoy the small town atmosphere,” he said in an interview on May 20. “I also played junior hockey in lots of small towns so I know that when the teams support the community, it comes back with the community supporting the team.”
At a mere 15 years old, Sweet-Coulter headed from his hometown of Victoria, B.C. to Notre Dame College in Wilcox, SK where he played Bantam and Midget hockey. After two years there, he went on to play junior hockey for various leagues in B.C., Alberta, and Saskatchewan. Then, in his early twenties, he started coaching.
“I always had that ambition to be a coach and I got into it right away. I was fortunate enough to land my first job as a 22-year old as the head coach of the Northeastern Alberta Junior Hockey League (NEAJHL),” he said. When you’re young, it’s a lot to learn, but you come along. Every day is a new day when you’re learning something new. It’s amazing. Even now, every day I’m learning something new.”
After a year with the NEAJHL, he moved on to the Central Alberta Junior Hockey League, the Heritage Junior Hockey League, and spent the last five seasons with the Capital Junior Hockey League.
English River Miners President Jason Vinet says the hiring process included many qualified applicants from all over North America as well as from Finland, Sweden, and the Czech Republic.
“It was apparent that Derek exemplified the qualities and structure that we were looking for to fill this position,” said Vinet. “Derek not only brings with him the experience required to manage both positions, but also the leadership, energy, commitment, and dedication that both jobs command.”
Sweet-Coulter says the foundation of every program he’s run is humility, integrity, and courage.
“I think those characteristics are a must, not only for the players, but also the coaching staff and everyone involved in the organization. When I met with the hiring committee of the English River Miners, I felt that they were all really on board with that and it was nice to see that support.”
“We’re there to teach life through hockey is how I see it,” continued Sweet-Coulter. “Teaching them to put others before themselves is a priority. We want to promote these young athletes to universities and colleges and do the best we can as an organization to prepare them for their future. Of course we want to promote winning too, but at this age their development is just as important.”
Vinet says the Miners organization is excited to welcome Sweet-Coulter and looks forward to building new relationships with Ear Falls and Red Lake.