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Sami Jo's Podcast: Episode 8 – Wally Kozak

Olympic Gold medal-winning coach, Wally Kozak shares his philosophy on coaching, the role of mentorship and how we can all be better teammates.

Wally Kozak coached Canada’s 2002 Olympic gold medal-winning team. More than that, he’s spent a lifetime in hockey, teaching, mentoring and growing the game at every level in Canada and overseas. 

Respected throughout the hockey community, he shares his philosophies on the role of coaches and leaders in our society. 

A full transcription of the podcast can be found below.

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Music/Man’s Voice: Welcome to Sami Jo’s Podcast. The show that is all about gaining insights from top performers as they share what made their teams successful and translate those ideas into your everyday lives and businesses.

Here is your host, 3 time Olympian, professional speaker, author and entrepreneur ...Sami Jo Small.

Welcome to episode #8 of Sami Jo’s podcast where I interview one of the most influential coaches in Canada, Wally Kozak. His passion for teaching is contagious and he has a belief that coaches and leaders have a responsibility to care for players and develop them as people and citizens.

He has coached at every level, including minor hockey, professional and the Olympic level serving as hockey Canada’s head scout and manager of player development for 4 decades.

One of the women’s hockey fiercest advocates, he has worked at every level of the game, helping it grow here and oversees. He has left his mark on countless players and coaches around the world, many owing their careers to him.

I hope you enjoy his incredible insights and my interview with Wally Kozak.

Land Acknowledgement

Sami Jo: Firstly, I'd like to acknowledge the traditional indigenous owners of country throughout Canada and pay my respect to them, their culture and their elders past, present and future.Sami Jo: So Wally, I don't know anyone that loves the game as much as you do and find such joy in teaching the sport. Your passion for the game is contagious. And there are so many top Canadian players that owe their careers to you, including me. So a huge thank you. And thank you so much for being on our podcast today.

Wally: Thank you very much. Sami. It's a pleasure.

Sami Jo: Well, I really appreciate it. So let's start in the very beginning in your original team, in the Kozak family. So you grew up, I grew up in a small town, Wadena, Saskatchewan, is that correct?

Wally: Yes.

Sami Jo: From an immigrant family. So what was it like growing up in your family? And what values do you think were taught to you at a young age that served you later on as a coach and as an educator?

Wally: Well, first of all, immigrant family, first generation Canadian, it has special significance because my father leaving the old country under the Stalin regime to get away from communism, basically, life was really bad for him. So he took the big step and did come over. And I'm so thankful that he did that my whole lifetime. In small town, Saskatchewan, growing up was, you know, everything was a part of it, you just learn to grow up in Saskatchewan and be a Canadian, where it took me a while relative to my growth, sports was very important. It was sort of what kept our family the three boys in focus, because it was difficult for my immigrant, uneducated father, a shoemaker, making a living and looking after three boys and it was a challenge. And our mother was sick quite a bit. So he had a tough job. And thank goodness for sports as a whole, the small community that really looks after everybody in the community and hockey, because it was it was the escape, it was the place to go and be and forget about everything and just play, it was fun.

Sami Jo: Was sport integral to your dad's life before coming over? Or was that just something within Wadena? That was really important?

Wally: No, my father really just family basically was a farm family and he had about a grade three education and nothing to do with sport. In fact, he actually didn’t like hockey because he watched my oldest brother play in a minor hockey game as a 15 year old and get into a fight. It’s interesting story because he didn’t want me to play hockey after that. And he burnt my skates in the, we lived in a dwelling with three wooden coal stoves, back in the day. And he really didn’t want me to play the game. But of course, the community members in the community came around to say, look, I had a little bit of talent but it was really important for me to be playing and I did eventually. And it’s interesting by the time I was in grade 12. Not in grade 12 but were in a new arena in Saskatchewan and I was in grade 11 at the time playing on the Senior team. He never came and watched me play until the opening of the new arena. In that particular game I had a pretty good game, the next day or maybe a day later, there were a pair of Tack skates, CCM Tacks which were the skates of the time, not my brother’s hand me downs as they always had, he said to me in his broken English it was sonny I think you’re going to need good skates.

Sami Jo: Oh, that's so special. that must have meant the world to you.

Wally: It really did. More now. You know, even back then as an immigrant, you're subject to the sways of the community and the small town I lived in at nine churches and 1,000 people, big for me. My father was pretty devout churchgoer choir singer, he was more of a singer than he was an athlete, but obviously, there must have been something in the genes where had he’d been an athlete who knows what he would have done. He might have been a boxer. I don't know.

Sami Jo: Did your brothers continue on playing or I know they're avid hockey fans but my oldest brother was a very good player, he was a mesomorph, who probably had the most talent but being the oldest brother in an immigrant family, he did move away for one year to play Junior hockey. But then he went to teachers college for a year, and actually ended up teaching school and getting his degree, if you can believe this, a degree by summer school classes.

Sami Jo: Wow, impressive.

Wally: That was what he did. But he always played hockey. And he also sang, singing quite big in our family. My other brother became a radio announcer. He served an excellent career in Winnipeg at a radio station there but he grew up and just went through every level beginning in the small town radio station, moving to Saskatoon going to the U. of S., their local station, and then going to CFQC. From there to Winnipeg, where his career launched, he recently retired in the western Canadian Hall of Fame broadcasting.

Sami Jo: Well, I've been fortunate to have been interviewed by Boyd several times. And every time he can't say enough about you, and it's interesting that of the three of you went into really a jobs of service, you know, service to the community, as educators as journalists, that's, you know, testament to your family. So, I want to move into your current family. Um, when did you meet your wife? And I know that you have three daughters. How has your view of education and your, you know, your love for hockey impacted them, and how have they supported you through that?

Wally: Well, I was a school teacher, but I also coached and typical of being a hockey player, I only played a year of pro, played for the Father Bauer’s National team, leading to pursuing a professional career but having a couple of degrees, which was more important to our family, and maybe myself than playing in the NHL. In the end, after a couple years of Pro, I actually decided to return to my vocation because I'm not sure how I would have turned out if I would have tried to pursue that career. But going into teaching and coaching while you're taught and having three daughters as well. It was a challenge. They all came to my high school, they all participated in sports, but they all had other interests too. The most athletic one was Stacy's a middle daughter. She played ringette that I did go and coach her and actually coached senior team at the same time in both the junior and senior team won the national championships. She moved over to hockey when I was coaching the Oval female team.

Sami Jo: Oh, interesting. I did not know that.

Wally: She never played hockey, but she made the team if it actually wasn't for Hayley Wickenheiser coming up to me and saying she's good enough to play here. I wouldn't have, you know, I was really reluctant to take her but she was a good player, real good skater. Very smart. But had ringette hands. And you know, what that means.

Sami Jo: If you don't make the transition early enough. It's pretty tough, but probably an amazing skater.

Wally: Yes. Very good skater. Yes.

Sami Jo: And what was the other two? What were they interested in?

Wally: Well, Tara, the oldest one. She was an artist of the sort in that she made clothing like really unique, kind of clothing. She would have loved to have done that. And interestingly enough, she's the one that got married and had a child. And she's a hockey mom and really loves, not a hockey mum pardon me a soccer mom.

Sami Jo: Oh, interesting.

Wally: My granddaughter is a very good soccer player and she coached her when she was 5-6-7 and eight. And then passed her on to a higher level coaches, but she's studying coaching, I think coaching from me is rubbed off on her.

Wally: My youngest girl, she has recorded some music. And she has a show on Patreon. And she brings people into the studio online to do Patreon shows as she’s trying to make ends meet. But she's been around the world a few times traveling with groups. She's a sound engineer, one of very few female sound engineers who is an artist and a very good artist and a very good musician. What she did, she was putting on a concert and asking people for song requests. And my wife requested the song Somewhere over a Rainbow. She did a rendition that you wouldn't you would recognize but it's unique. It's changing the way the song is normally played, or Sung, or delivered. And she did this years ago with a friend doing Christmas concerts where they just made up Christmas music and the two of them both on the guitar and singing. Just they made music. It was unbelievable.

Sami Jo: Wow, I'd love to hear it someday. That would be incredible.

Wally: Well, I am editing it with pictures of rainbows and pictures of her in the studio and that kind of thing. But she's sort of thinks oh it's not that good is not that good. I don't have consent to share it yet. But she's trying to promote her work. And this is a unique side of her vocation that I think hasn't been tapped into. An email a text I sent her today. Can you do that with classical music? Because, you know, the music she's in her generation of music. They're, they're at their own cutting edge not my cutting edge. And I believe this song I at least recognize the music. Ever historical knowledge and feeling for it. And I really identified with that through her. It was interesting, but she's having fun with it. So three daughters, all very different than that's the thing that you can never hope or wish or think your kids should follow your footsteps. They'll find their own way.

Sami Jo: I think somebody's much wiser than us told Billy and I that when your kid finds their passion, there's nothing better as a parent.

Wally: You're right.


This episode is brought to you by Armstrong and Small Eye Care Centre.

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Started by my grandfather, continued by father and now run by my brother Luke and his wife Gina, their optometrists have been telling people what their eyes say about them for over 100 years. That's a lot of eyes and a lot of experience


Sami Jo: Yeah, that's, that's amazing. Well, I'm curious how you met Carol, your wife, and how you ended up in Calgary was that for teaching?

Wally: We were childhood sweethearts, grew up in the same school. And she was an athlete and a very good student. But, you know, when we got married, and then having children, she, she was a mother. And you appreciate that role, but with three girls, I wasn't home. I was doing my thing. All of your corporate audience, male CEOs and even the female ones. You've got to balance your life, in terms of doing what you do. And I'm amazed at what you do. And all you're doing with your family as well, keeping it in mind. And that's something that my generation of parents really didn't go through it was pretty traditional, was the guy's world. But as you know, having gone to women hockey, I've got an affinity for the genuineness of performance first, not gender. I'm really impressed with the girls. I've been able to coach, the women I able to work with ongoing basis. I'm really impressed with that.

Sami Jo: Well, I think it took me a long time, I was very fortunate to grow up with a mother who was a stay at home mom and took care of the family. And it took me a long time to realize the strength that it took for that. That's just how much it affected us as kids and how amazing of a job that is. You know, it's not till I think you become a parent that you really understand. But it sounds like you have such pride for your family. And I'm sure that that has is a testament to not only where you grew up, but also to Carol and your girls as well. So I want to delve a little bit into your hockey career before we go into your Olympic experience. So I know that you graduated from University of Saskatchewan in 1968. You went on to play one season with a national team under legendary date up, Father David Bauer. So why do you think his mentorship was so important to you? And what did you learn from that experience?

Wally: Father Bauer with a national team, I played in a league they did not play my final year of eligibility college because there was a league with the senior Quaker team and Calgary Stampeders, Edmonton Nuggets in the US and Canadian National Team. And that was the year that the US team, I think won the World Championships. But it was a good league, I managed to get scouted, evaluated invited to the national camp. And we're not for that year, I wouldn't have got the invitation. But I managed to make the team that year, only one year was probably had more influence on what I did for the rest of my life relative to sport. And Father Bauer’s philosophy of coaching. It was it was all about the good of the game is you've heard my line all the time. It wasn't about the outcome. It's not about the end, it's about the process of doing the right thing to be your best. And I picked up on that. And so it went to teach school coach sports. Three different sports in school. And then all the hockey teams and coach male and female ringette, wrestlers I've coached has always been with that philosophy and might be the best you can be and the results will come. I think it's really bode well for the people I’ve worked with and the teams I've worked with.

Sami Jo: It's incredible the impact that you've had, and I think, continue to have but what I see now more is more of that philosophy is permeated into education and coaching and it is more normalized. Whereas I'm sure when you first started that was not the case. And I know that you run up against a lot of challenges and obstacles when it comes to developing the whole child or the whole athlete. I guess what has really, I know that philosophy is integral for you, but what has really helped you, to motivate you to keep you persistent all these years later?

Wally: It's hard to say it's something that's inside of you. You, it's the way I've always approached sports. So growing up, I never encountered the business of sport growing up, and the idea of winning at all costs. That has permeated our minor sport system to a degree that, and that's what I dedicated the rest of my life to with our regular Thursday, meeting sessions and discussions. Today in our sport, in fact, in minor sports, there's, there's a real divide between doing it the right way, and getting better results and doing it the wrong way, in harming the participants and not getting the right results. And I think the business of sport is much different than the actual purpose of sport. Business is about winning you win, and I think you’ll win if you play as a team, you work as a team as you don't get focused on trying to win so hard that you forget about the process and all that has to go into achieving success. So it's a long process. You've been there, you've done that, you know, the impressive thing with Olympians is, you've been in three Olympics. That's your 12 years of your life of sacrifice. The reason you did it was really the purity of the game, and the effort, what you learn from it, what you acquire from it, that's the most important thing. And I don't care if you play in the NHL, or you play in the Olympics or you’re an Olympic athlete. It isn't different. It's the same. And I think your best athletes and your best coaches understand that, they'll be the ones that have more success in the end.

Sami Jo: I think they'll be the ones that the athletes remember, you know, there'll be the ones that they emulate when they become parents and coaches. And that, to me is the testament of a great coach is how many of those athletes then in turn, are of service to others? And I can't, you know, I can't even count on one on one, two hands, how many people have been like that in your life, you have hundreds of Wally Kozak devotees, including myself, and I am eternally grateful that not only that you had the belief in me, amongst others, I mean, I was just one of so many, but that you took time to care in a in a sports environment that was pressure packed. So let's talk a little bit about your first your women's hockey experience. And then we'll get into the Olympics. But I'm not actually sure about sort of the chronological steps of Wally Kozak. But I do remember you mentoring and helping Shannon Miller at the Oval. But I'm curious how you kind of got into women's hockey. And you eventually became associated with Team Japan's Under 20. Team and then my next encounter with you was at the Olympics in Japan. So can you kind of tell us about your trajectory within the sport and what made you want to help the women's game?

Wally: Well after having taught school for close to 25 years, and coaching hockey, minor hockey growing up plus football, wrestling and track in high school, the economic times and fairly tough in the schooling system, and we were facing cutbacks and taking paycuts. I was phys ed department head and had to recruit teachers to voluntarily coach and yet we're receiving quite a paycut. So I did my work. Stayed with my stance, but it was really difficult to the point where I really wasn't happy having to do that, given those circumstances, so I eventually took a leave of absence. And the invitation to go to Japan was one thing. I took advantage that invitation sort of played a little bit of political handball with the powers to be in the hierarchy of this school system in the provincial education system, get permission to go to Japan periodically for a period of five weeks at a time for five years to work with the Japanese system periodically to help them prepare for the Olympics, and this was by raised by Dave King, who, in 1988, while I was teaching school and helping hockey Canada voluntarily, Dave had me work with the 1988 Olympic team as a skills coach. He brought me in because I played international hockey for Father Bauer, we played the Russians. We knew the nuances of big ice hockey, the differences in skill and how far advanced European game was. So Dave took advantage of that. Working with him voluntarily in Japan and the pulsar got to ‘88. The Japanese asked me to coach their women's team.

Sami Jo: To ‘98 to the Nagano Olympics.

Wally: Yeah, yes. Okay. But initially, all my time was spent working with their minor hockey male system. They had a five team pro League was a pretty big, one good team in it influenced by the Russians, because during the war Ogee in the Northern island, was occupied by the Russians. And they adopted the Russian system of play and interesting, in the other parts of the country were more of a North American, where Canada had an influence in. Father Bauer had an influence with some of his former players going there and coaching. So I went there, I had the experience. When Dave King was released by the Flames, I convinced them to get him to coach Japanese men's team. He was available, and I said, you've got to get him. And they did in the process, I slipped over to the women's program. And Dave actually helped out with that, and saw that I got the position of coaching at the Olympics. So after that was over. Shannon Miller was going to leave the program, go to Minnesota Duluth. Just about that time period, while I was home you, your name came up about something, Shannon called me about getting you to come to an ice time that I was running with pros, so you can be evaluated for her program and possibly a candidacy for the team. And of course, that one night you spent there changed the world for you because I went to bat and made the recommendation that you be candidate to be looked at. And sure enough, running into you accidentally at the Nagano Olympics, in line at the food center was amazing. I was quite surprised to see you there. Having given up, you know reading your book and having given up, you know, the track scholarship and sacrificing all that effort in one sport., go over to hockey take the risk and take the job. Congratulations. Thank you for doing that.

Sami Jo: Thank you for seeing something on that day. Unbeknownst to me. I didn't know that it was an evaluation. And I'm certainly glad that, you know, the practice was so intense and it just was so much fun. It was just incredible to be on the ice with so many great men but also great women. I had never seen women at that level before. So I’m glad I worked really hard that practice it turned out really well. But I'm curious what your take on your initial experience of the differences at the time and women's hockey versus men's hockey and did you have to change your coaching at all or your philosophy or your style?

Wally: No other. I don't think I changed too much at all. I think I coached the right way. Not the old school. You know, I didn't swear I didn't yell. I didn't shorten the bench. That that sort of was the modus operandi, if you notice today, that's very rare. The games going to be much for the better now, if we just get it to be that way in minor hockey because some parents have been coached that way are coaching now. And they're coaching where they were coached. And it's, I think the generation of player and student is way ahead of where we were back in our day, and even you were in your day. So I think we're making great strides that way. I call it 21st century coaching. It's pretty, pretty darn exciting. So I really had no difficulty with it. I did have to adapt to learning how to coach, teach and ask questions and answer questions. Because the female athlete, you just can't tell him what to do. You definitely can’t yell at them. You've got to make sense in what you're doing, they’ll rationalize it and that allow them to ask questions.

Sami Jo: I'm sure your three daughters helped to come to that realization much quicker than probably most men would have.

Wally: I think if I had three boys would wouldn't be here today talking to you. Yeah, having three daughters that have been coached them and coaching in a high school setting helped because I was coaching, track and field. When I was coaching wrestling, female wrestlers saved the program in Calgary, because the numbers were down on the male wrestling side. So I really got an, I didn't have an appreciation of coaching females in individual sport until as much as I did, until I coached at the Olympic Oval with coaching all the all women's hockey team. It was amazing. It was it was fun to coach it was a pleasure to coach to was like, wow, it wasn't telling me what to do and I'll go through the wall for you. Ni, it was together, we had to figure it out, work together. One of the things that I say, coach, at many coaching clinics as my job as a coach, as a leader, is to transmit belief in the people you're working with. Doesn't matter if it's your staff, coaching staff, like everybody I've worked with, and I can compliment Danièle Sauvageau of the National team, and Melody’s. I really appreciate everything they brought, and we were different. Danièle's leadership was visionary and incredible ability to agree to disagree and work together was the biggest learning experience. For me, and not only the, just the three of us, the staff, and this is something I appreciate probably more than most people at the end of 2002, after we won the gold medal. During that season, I really appreciated the sport scientists, trainers, the doctors was with the psychologists, everybody played such a big role in that outcome. They were just as important or more important than myself or the coaching staff here, you’re a web of influence. And one thing I've learned is to sort of appreciate everybody from the bottom up from the inside out, not from the top down. That's bode well for me and I think it's a reminder for anybody. In any working in any organization, corporately, or sports, that's there's a team of people there that you want to have on the same page, working together and transmit belief to do the best job they can.

Sami Jo: I think that's so well said because I think that's one of my perhaps biggest regret looking back, you know, when I was writing the book, I didn't realize how many people had an influence on us as a team and on the teams I played on and it really wasn't until I became General Manager of the Toronto Furies. And I had a staff of 25 people working for me. And that was just one club team, let alone the Olympic team. There's many, many more people that go into that. And I think as a player, you're so narrowly focused. And you know, that's part of the process as an athlete, it is inherently selfish as you build up your body and you build up yourself. But I wish I would have, you know, it's one of those regrets, I wish I would have taken more time to get to know the people that really impacted us. And thank them along the way, because they did it also for the love of the game and to build team. I am thankful to hear that, you know, the coaching staffs that worked closely with these people, were very appreciative, and that you guys really did operate as a unit. But I think as an athlete, that's a great reminder for not only the athletes, but for somebody in a in a corporate environment to remember everybody and to stop and say thank you, because that goes a long way. And it can really make a difference to the end results.

Wally: You're absolutely right. When you're working, practicing, you're not thinking of everything in the big picture of all the people involved. And I really credit our CEO Danièle Sauvageau, because I would say more than anybody I've ever met. In my lifetime, she saw the big picture. And she realized the importance of the big picture. Getting that out. So it was a tremendous experience working with her and appreciating the importance. You don't have to be the expert in the sport. If you're a leader, or in the industry, you've got to be a great fit and have a vision, a sense of purpose and perspective of where you want to go and how you're going to get there. But the people working with you, not for you, with you, at every level will accomplish the outcomes that you desire. When you all work together. It was a good lesson.

Sami Jo: Amazing, well if memory serves me correctly, you were the assistant coach in 2000, 2001. And then with the Olympic team in 2002, when we won the gold medal, under, as you mentioned in Danièle Sauvageau, and alongside Melody Davidson, I'm curious, in your mind, you know, that to me was really the catalyst for the next four Olympic medals, you know, the base, and the philosophy of the program was really developed at that time. And I'm curious, what you think, made that team so strong. And that philosophy, how that sort of permeated, you know, the team as a whole, but also what challenges and obstacles did you guys have to overcome to really instill that in us?

Wally: I don't believe the players were a problem at all. It's the system as you know, the United States winning in Nagano stayed centralized. Full time year round. You all went to your respective club teams didn't train as diligently as you weren’t athletes, you were hockey players.

Sami Jo: You’re telling secrets out of school right now. But yes, you are correct.

Wally: The US National team says the bar of training and the importance of sports science in terms of what you're doing when you're doing it's all just laid out. And we weren't doing that. And that's what Danièle understood. And that’s what she achieved and accomplished not without a lot of stick-handling on her part financially to access resources you need to apply that. And I would say that was the biggest thing to sell. Not to you the athlete but to the administration. The hockey Canada itself because sports prior to that, hockey in particular, it was just seasonal, even on the men's side. I mean, they didn't train. But when you came to my conditioning camps, near the end of that tenure year of camps after running for 15 years, athletes were coming in, in shape. They were, they had trained. I had to change my practice routine and what they were conditioning focus so much anymore, they had to be technically focused. So it really changed because their training wasn't on the ice for fitness. It had to be on the ice for decision making quick thinking and quick execution and more skill. That's the one thing I've learned from that. That's what I think the game today is growing exponentially way to another level of preparation and time to the point where I worry about how enjoyable Is it because you play a game for enjoyment. So there's that line between, you know, do you really want to do this? And you obviously did. And you did it that long, there are people that are still committed to wanting to do that. If they do, everything is, you know, I wish them all well.

Sami Jo: You're right, though the expectation is, is much different. Now, you know, it is becomes a job much sooner it is for the younger or young girls on the team. Currently, there is, you know, the wrapped up in the world of social media of pressure of much more than we ever experienced. And, you know, I can't I can't even imagine what they go through. And I am so impressed with their professionalism through it all. And their commitment, you know, when we, when we made the commitment, it was, you know, we also got to still have that balance in our life and stay true to that it wasn't hard to create that now, they really have to go out of their way to create that balance.

Wally: Much more commitment, sacrifice. And that's why when, after the 2002, I became the head scout and sort of a manager of player development. Working with the branches right across the country, trying to get them on the same page in terms of languaging communications team play overall, coach development and player development. That was, that was my focus after 2002 was the operation of the whole program scouting, evaluation for development, I called it not evaluation or scouting, to pick a team to win a game. Because if you're going to be an Olympian, you're going to have to be and I used to say this to parents in meetings across the country, your child has to be crazy to make the Olympic team. And I would often say before telling them that’s what you have to be is that nobody here is going to make the Olympic team. Wait for that pause and the large audience. That's because they're not crazy enough. This is not as easy as just making the team. You just made that provincial team today or you're one of 60 trying out for the under 18 National team. You've got to get through the under 22 team and the senior team. In the World Championship senior team is one thing but there's still the Olympics. So for 12 years, your life I’ve sort of set a goal as we expect to have you for two Olympics if you're going to commit Are you crazy enough to commit that way and that that crazy means passion. Are you that passionate, that driven that you give up your life, your relationships? A normal life as a player and you know how difficult it is. I don't know that any of the players had children yet or how many coaches, female coaches with children could still coach. But this is a challenge that you face, represent and try to make it easier and better for them. Just so thankful to have been involved in having three daughters makes it extra meaningful for me to still be working for the game, but having more of a concern for the female. Because I think it's going to make the male game better.

Sami Jo: I think you have been so integral to women's hockey for so long. And as the head scout and in charge of player development right across the country, you impacted future generations that you, that we still haven't seen yet. You know that we don't know the full impact of all of that. But you now have created a new group which I am excited to talk about and very privileged to be a part of. But after being mentored to thousands of players and probably hundreds of coaches across this country, you started this new mentorship program called the Sharks. So I want you to tell us what led you to start this and really what you see as its purpose?

Wally: Well this particular group sort of happened four or five years ago in Calgary where a number of friends, Tim Bothwell being one of them, they were meeting for coffee regularly every Thursday morning. Give a little advertisement to the King’s coffee shop at the time when you could sit down, have a coffee. And we would take a big room at the back if there were more than six people. And we would just talk hockey. With COVID. We decided to initiate it online and the name Tim Bothwell gave us the name coined the title of “no dead sharks”. What it means, it comes from a Woody Allen movie. I didn’t know if you have heard this.

Sami Jo: No I have not heard the story.

Wally: Tim got tin cups made up no dead sharks on it. Pictures of sharks. The title comes from a Woody Allen movie. Where in in the movie his girlfriend had asked him what do you think of our relationship? And when he said, Well, you know, it's sort of like a shark if it's not swimming. Moving forward is not breathing. It's dying. So the name of a shark, swimming and moving forward and learning is what we are about. That's the essence of it. It's interesting this morning, I exchanged an email at Tom Renney trying to get permission to use his tribute to Clare Drake and Clare Drake’s celebration of life. So 11 minute talk that’s just… Clare’s the kind of man that he was my mentor, mentor of many coaches. Tom's reply was only give you permission to share it if you share it with the sharks. So he's, he's on our email list, but he's too busy to join, given his job, but he knows what we're trying to do. And that's why he would want us to keep learning and keep trying to grow the game and serve the good of the game. So now we meet every Thursday morning at 8:30. I think you stayed on for just about two hours the last we went three hours and I just finishing editing, editing all the videos. Darryl Belfry joined us. He was really amazing to get his feedback and the questions of the feedback from everybody else because it's an interactive learning process going on. I spent the weekend editing. This morning, I shared about 12 parts that I gleaned out of the entire thing with our audio with the sharks, but I also pass it on over 400 coaches who are in our email links, and it's just the idea of good forward, you encourage everyone to pass it on to somebody who might appreciate even one of the 10 links. They might look at it, and they might use it, it's not gonna hurt. So that sort of keeps me alive Sami to tell you the truth.

Sami Jo: That's why I love the eclectic nature of the of the participants of the guests from Dr. Saul Miller, one of the world's most renowned sports psychologists, to Angie Abdou, writing about minor hockey and mostly a fiction novelist. And her take on minor hockey and I think it was in Canmore. It is just to Kim McCullough, who is a full time female hockey coach that I played with and back in the day. So it is such an eclectic group of people that bring such different perspectives. And that's what I love, you know, it's really easy to go online or to do learning and to find things that are similar to what you already believe. But I really love about the sharks is that discussion about the other side sometimes and you know, why we come at things from different perspectives and how we can all learn from each other. And I think that that's so important in today's society as well to learn you know, from the left and from the right and from the middle and that we all come together with this collective voice. Would you say the same?

Wally: Yeah, I, I take it a step further. I read between the lines and you're saying from the left to the right in the middle. Third, Clare Drake in his coaching is all about a better society. And I believe if you do things right way, in sports, when kids begin As we coach them and they grow up, sports will teach you the life skills, you need to be a lifelong learner and to be open minded, to make better decisions to make a better society. That, in fact, was the message of Clare Drake, that Tom alluded to. Clare spoke at the convocation address to the University of Alberta students. And the closing part of his speech was asking each one of them to make a small difference. And if we all did, it would be a much better world. That's, that's where he came from years ago. So you can see whether it was Father Bauer in third grade. I was inducted in the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame. And in my acceptance speech, I basically said this, he said, everything I'm saying to you, to the audience. Father Bauer talks about it, wanted to do it for wanted to do and I wanted to do it. And I reminded Tom Renney. We've got to do that he knows that. So we've got to support him, the man at the top, it's just the system is hard to deal with. It's the way our society becomes we've got to open our society up to be more open honesty, trust and respect one another.

Sami Jo: Well, I think that is an excellent way to end off. You have a lot of minions across this country that are now sharing, Father Bauer / Clare Drake, and Wally Kozak’s message, to build a better society. So this has been a truly an honour, a privilege. There's nobody in the game while you that I respect more. So thank you so much for doing this for me.

Wally: Sami, thank you very much. An absolute pleasure to work with you and to continue ever relationship. Thank you very much.

Sami Jo: Thank you all the best.


Music/Man voice: Thank you for listening to Sami Jo’s Podcast. If you have suggestions for guests in the future, would like to book her for your next event, advertise on this podcast or to purchase a her latest book, The Role I Played please go to


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