Brad Crossley has accomplished many great things in his coaching career. The stats, the teams, the big names he’s helped push to the next level and the highest levels, can be found on the internet. Other notable achievements include: delivering on me the hardest check I’ve ever received, (he did so at practice. With no gear on). providing me and countless others with some of the greatest quotes and chirps in human history, and being a very elusive player of “shoe check” at team dinners. What can’t be quantified in a list is the human effect he’s had on those who are fortunate enough to be around him.
The man is the ultimate motivator. 5 minutes on his Facebook page is enough to have you planning that hike up Everest. He never asked me to do anything he wouldn’t do. He lived it every day, and he still does. The most amazing thing he did was to make me believe I could in fact do whatever it was he was asking of me.
As a coach, he knows the game very well. In my two years of Midget AAA (now major midget) in Dartmouth, I learned more than I ever thought hockey had to teach. No doubt he can coach the x’s and o’s. But he also has a way of teaching the intangibles, of “drawing up” the non-hockey specific factors. You always hear people saying “you can’t teach size”, “you can’t teach compete”, “you can’t teach desire”, . Somehow, he coached it. I wasn’t a particularly lazy player, but I felt like it after my first week in camp. He introduced me to the next level, just like he has for everyone else.
Being a tremendously intense hockey guy, what struck me in those years was the balance he encouraged us to create. To him, hockey skills = life skills, and if another part of your life was going a little bit sour, the door was open.
If you did something right, he had a way of letting you know he was happy for you, but not in a way that said he was proud you picked up on something he was showing you. He did it in a way that he was just happy for you and your accomplishment. Like it was all you. That made a huge difference on the flip side, because when you did something wrong he never made you feel as though you let him down either. It was your own battle, and you won or lost it. That accountability and trust made me a confident player and was a huge part of my development.
After my two years with him I saw him from time to time, but having moved away from our old neighbourhood, several years went by. In 2010 I ended up a head coach in the newly formed NS Major Bantam League, and as it happens I was about to coach against Brad’s son. I walked into the rink wearing my flat cap, and sure enough, there was Cros. Before I could even say hi, he said “I see you’re wearing your dad’s hat.”
I’m sure he never will stop greasing me, but he’ll also never stop motivating me.