A few weeks ago, I came across an exciting new organization called the Foundation for Goaltending Research and Education (FGRE).
The FGRE is a non-profit 501-c3 foundation dedicated to “the physical and psychological development of ice hockey goaltenders” through research projects, workshops, educational curriculum, and interactive goalie coaching symposiums. The Board of Directors includes Adler Mannheim goalie coach and Stop It Goaltending owner Brian Daccord, former NHL goaltender Brian Boucher, Lloyd Friedland, Bruce Irving, and USA Hockey goalie Molly Schaus.
Shortly after discovering the FGRE, I reached out to Daccord, one of the top goalie coaches in the USA and a guy I hold in very high esteem. We discussed the inception of this foundation and how the directors were preparing for their first-annual Goalie Coaches Symposium, which will be held May 15-17 at The PAD in Woburn, MA. If you’re a goalie coach, be sure to check out all of the details and consider attending. Your registration fee directly supports the FGRE’s mission statement.
Although I’m unable to attend their symposium due to prior engagements, I made sure to let Daccord know I would actively advocate their work as time goes on through The Goalie Guild, which is also in the process of transforming into a non-profit model (more on that later).
Ultimately, I was very excited to discover the FGRE. Daccord is a major player in US goalie development, so his role with this foundation is a necessary component to the evolution of American goaltending. Along with companies like The Goalie Guild, InGoal Magazine, and NetWork Goaltending, we all have the same end-goal in mind — to provide a stronger voice for today’s growing goaltending community and to further educate goalies of all ages and skill levels.
FGRE’s Goalie Coaches Symposium is a vital piece to the puzzle, and The Goalie Guild is proud to support their cause. As such, please take a few minutes to read this recent interview I held with Schaus, who recently won a Gold Medal with USA Hockey at the 2015 IIHF Women’s World Championship.
Goldman: How did you get involved in hockey at an international level?
Schaus: “Like most female goalies, I have two older brothers that put me in net when I was six or seven years old. I fell in love with the position from there, and then I watched the 1998 Winter Olympics over in Nagano, and the US team won their first-ever Gold Medal in the sport. I had an opportunity to meet the captain, Cammi Granato, talk with her, and wear the Gold Medal. For me, being in fourth grade, a dream was born. So it was always my passion to someday have the opportunity to play for Team USA and just represent the team in the Olympics. When I was in high school, I attended all of the usual development camps in Lake Placid, and after my freshman year of college, which was the summer of 2007, I was invited to attend the August camp – the Training Festival for the National Team. I made my first World Championship team in the Spring of 2008, and I’ve been on the team ever since then, and we just got back from winning a Gold Medal in Sweden last week.”
Goldman: What was it like winning the Worlds over there in Sweden?
Schaus: “Being one of the older players on the team now, I think it’s a little bit of a different perspective. When you’re young, you’re just playing hockey, having fun, and trying to win. The older you get, I think you realize what a unique opportunity it is to be there and to play the game at the highest level and to compete against the best players in the world. Having been on both sides of it and unfortunately falling short at both Olympics, I think coming back this year with a young team was exciting. We meshed really well as a team and played so well over there. Winning that final game was a bit of a wild one, the score was 7-to-5, but at the end of the day, to stand on the blue line hearing your anthem with a Gold Medal around your neck, I think that’s what you dream of as a kid. It never gets old.”
Goldman: I watched a video of you a few days ago and you were talking about how much fun you were having coaching other female goalies. How will that follow through into working with the FGRE? Is this foundation a big part of your future?
Schaus: “Absolutely. I enjoy working with goalies and I coached at UMass Boston for two seasons on a part-time basis and definitely enjoyed it. I don’t personally foresee myself becoming a college coach or going down that path, but I think that’s what is so exciting about the foundation I’m working for. Obviously hockey has meant the world to me and I want to give back and stay involved, so this is a different outlet where I may not be on the ice every single day or coaching 12 months a year, but I have an opportunity to impact youth development and work with goalies more off the ice, as well as with parents and coaches. I can talk about all of the topics that, as a goalie growing up, I couldn’t, because I didn’t have someone to talk to about these things most of the time. That’s what I think is so great about this, I’m helping goalies from a different direction.”
Goldman: So in your own words, what is the mission of the FGRE?
Schaus: “In the short term, it’s to educate people who are working with goalies and to educate the goalies themselves, all the way from the youth through the pro level. A lot of goalies don’t have access to goalie coaching, especially at a young age, so that’s where we step in and work to identify some of the problems and key areas where goalies can begin to own their own development and take responsibility for it, both on and off the ice. I think that’s a critical piece to this – there’s a lot you can do on the ice, but there’s a lot more information out there for the off-ice and mental side of things, and the injury prevention side of things as well.”
Goldman: What is your role with the FGRE?
Schaus: “My role overall is as one of the directors of the foundation. Throughout the season, we host two or three workshops a month. I reach out to local youth teams, coaches, and administrators, and try to build that network and understanding of who we are and what we do. We had a number of successful workshops throughout the year and had some great feedback, so our next step is to try and expand and reach more people, but also develop more curriculum so we can get people to stay involved. Right now, we’re excited to announce our first-ever goalie coaches symposium, which is happening in May. My main focus for the next four weeks is to spread the word and try to get a really good group of coaches together to have great discussions and to learn a lot from one another.”
Goldman: Is there anything you want to tell coaches about the Goalie Coaches Symposium?
Schaus: “It’s just such a unique opportunity to take three days to really help not only your own goalie coach, but the fees that come with it are a direct donation to our foundation, so it continues our work to help the future generation. So while you’re benefiting as a coach, you’re also a part of something bigger and taking care of all the goalies that are up and coming. I think that’s an exciting part of the weekend.”
Goldman: We discussed earlier some of the research you’re doing with hip impingement. As we know, it’s a huge obstacle that goalies of every age are dealing with. Talk about your research and how that is benefiting goalies.
Schaus: “Like you said, goalies of all ages are starting to have these conditions more often, so it just seemed like a no-brainer to start there with our research projects. We sat down with four experts and asked them for advice on what we could send out to the masses to help goalies be more proactive. We came up with eight exercises that would complement a team’s dynamic warmup. So after your team warmup, a goalie can do these eight exercises. We really focused on the hip area to get them loose and help prevent injury when they’re on the ice. It puts a little bit of responsibility into the goalie’s hands by exposing them to the problem and gives them ways to stay on top of their hip health, whether they’re eight or 28 years old. We put that out about a month ago and we’re continuing to try and spread that information as time goes on.”
Goldman: It’s really cool, because the research project includes videos of you doing the exercises, and they’re really easy to read and understand. My new book discusses how USA Hockey lacks a goalie coaching certification program, which is exactly what Sweden and Finland have in place to help educate young goalies and amateur volunteer goalie coaches on this exact topic. So looking at your Hip Injury Prevention Project, I believe it would belong perfectly in the educational material I’d love to see USA Hockey adopt in a future goalie development manual. It is really tremendous information. But that aside, from someone who plays Nationally for Team USA, do you think we’re getting to a point where we have to start teaching goalies to stand up more at practice or manage the number of times they butterfly in day-to-day practices?
Schaus: “It’s true. Different countries are putting together these certification programs. I’ve worked with a handful of amazing goalie coaches over the course of my life with all kinds of different opinions on things. I don’t think goalies at a young age in this country have that direction. It’s just ‘get out there, get in the crease, and stop some pucks’ and we hate that model, so we want to be that voice and try to make a change. Hopefully someday USA Hockey will get on board with that and try to put something together for goalies.”
Goldman: When I first came across the FGRE, I wasn’t surprised to see Dac was involved with it. He’s such a key player and advocate for goalie development in the United States. It’s also great to see you’re involved as well. Anyone of your caliber and experience playing at a National level is not only huge for young female goalies, but all goalies in general. Is there anything else you want to say to readers and followers?
Schaus: “The hockey community is so small and so passionate, and then another subculture of that is the goaltending community. I think it’s pretty neat when we can all come together and discuss and share our passion. That’s what our symposium is all about, it’s an opportunity. It’s not often you get 40 goalie coaches sitting down with professionals and experts and just talking and learning all together. That’s what is so exciting about this opportunity.”