Grizzlies flourishing under Cota |

Grizzlies flourishing under Cota

Post Independent Photo/Kara K. Pearson Tim Cota coaches a Glenwood Springs Grizzlies midget hockey team practice at the Glenwood Springs Community Center ice rink Wednesday night. The Grizzlies host the divisional playoffs Saturday.

At some point over the past six years, Tim Cota coached just about every age level of hockey in Glenwood Springs. Judging by the short history of the Glenwood Springs midget squad, his approach seems to be paying off.In the 2002-03 season, Glenwood’s second at the Community Center ice rink, the Grizzlies finished with a record of 4-27-2. The next season Glenwood reversed the record for a 27-11-4 campaign. So far this year the Grizzlies are even better, heading into this weekend’s divisional playoffs at the Community Center rink with a mark of 33-5-2.Three seasons ago “I didn’t really think we’d be as good as we are now,” said forward Trevor French, a high school junior with one year of midget eligibility remaining. “It actually kind of surprised me this year with how well we are doing. It comes through the experience we’ve been getting over the past few years.”

Cota saw the team starting to click at the tail end of the 2002-03 season.”We started to turn the corner two years ago,” Cota said. “In the middle of February we started winning games. About this time two years ago, I guess.”The Grizzlies were winless on the season, but finished out the year 4-1-1.Cota attributes the rapid development to an aggressive game schedule – 30-40 contests per season – and plenty of practice time at the Community Center, something they weren’t getting while playing at the rodeo grounds.While he is quick to push much of the credit for the Grizzlies’ success to the parents, players and assistant coaches, players and parents push the accolades right back at the hockey coach.”He expects a lot out of us and wants a hundred percent all the time,” French said. “To tell you the truth, he’s the best coach I’ve ever had in hockey. He knows how to motivate us and gets us to learn, which is kind of key for a coach.

“As far as the motivation goes, it’s just the drive and emotion he has for the game, and he puts it onto us.”Cota has trouble pinning down his coaching style, basically drawing from his experience playing high school hockey in Red Lake Falls, Minn., and 12 years of coaching in Minnesota and Glenwood Springs.”I treat each player differently according to their personality and ability,” Cota said. “I’m authoritative, but I’m not one to yell and scream.”Cota’s authority is obvious on the ice when the Grizzlies face an opponent willing to use any means possible to slow down the Glenwood players.Cota: see page 16

Last weekend at a tournament in Albuquerque, N.M. – Glenwood won the tournament – some of the teams resorted to what Trevor’s father, Rick French, called “gutter play.””Our kids did not even think of stepping down to their level,” Rick recalled. “(Cota’s) level of ethics is exceptional. We’re not only winning, but we’re winning with class.”And Cota’s reach extends off the ice, as well. He sends players and parents frequent e-mails on everything from the pitfalls of energy drinks to training to how to be a leader. Many of the team newsletters go well beyond the bounds of hockey.”He’s such a care-giver,” said Mogli Fairbanks, whose son, Tate, is one of the team captains. “He coaches them through life, not just hockey.”Hockey has made all the difference in Tate’s life.”And Cota has certainly done his share for hockey in Glenwood Springs.

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