For James Eccles, it was a new and challenging opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
As the new head coach of the B.C. Major Midget League’s Okanagan Rockets, the 33-year-old Abbotsford native plans to put his array of experience in the hockey world to good use.
“I’m going to be coaching in the Okanagan to help get our young players here prepared for the next level,” said Eccles. “It’s all about the development of youth in hockey, both from a skills standpoint, and also the networking and guidance I’ll be able to give them for future opportunities in the game. James Eccles is here for the city of Kelowna and area. I won’t be arriving at the rink an hour before the games. This responsibility will be a daily procedure.”
A former junior player in B.C., Eccles played four seasons at Kent State University. He also coached for three seasons in the NCAA at State University of New York in Brockport, N.Y., he was an assistant coach and director of scouting for the BCHL’s Westside Warriors in 2008-09, and has also worked with the Penticton Vees.
Eccles is currently an instructor at the Hockey Skills Academy for the Central Okanagan school district and is also the director of scouting for the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles.
In the off-season Eccles operates small area game-training, and skill-specific sessions in Kelowna.
For Eccles, the timing of the new coaching position couldn’t be much better.
“Now considering that this is my home, after years of travelling and seeing the world, this is where my family and I want to be,” he said. “This is a really good age and good time and place for me to take this on. I’m excited.”
Eccles spent many hours scouting the midget Rockets last season and likes the foundation that previous coaches and management have laid for the future.
He will, not surprisingly, seek to put his own stamp on the team.
“I want to make this the most disciplined and hardworking team with pride that there is anywhere,” Eccles added. “With those three qualities, you can’t help but grow the future for these kids. Working with 15- to 18-year-old players is my focal point and I’m looking forward to helping them move on.”
Eccles takes over the coaching duties from Brandon West who left to join the staff of the Westside Warriors. West replaced Misko Antisin early last season when Antisin departed for a coaching job in Switzerland.
In 2010-11, the Rockets posted a 15-19-6 record to finish eighth in the BCMML.
The Rockets will hold training camp in August, but the search for prospective talent for 2011-12 is already under way.
To contact James Eccles for more information, call (250) 859-6001, or email advancementsportsgroup.com