University of Maine men’s hockey coach Shawn Walsh is always looking to gain an advantage over an opponent.
Next fall’s dry-land training could take on a new look that may provide the Bears with such an advantage.
The Bear boss spent two days last week on Parris Island, S.C., where basic training is held for the U.S. Marine Corps.
He talked extensively with Marines such as soon-to-be Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Parks III, who was chosen the Marine Corps’ drill instructor of the year at Parris Island for 1998, and gathered several ideas for dry-land training.
“I discussed the idea of having a Marine Corps drill instructor work with the team for three weeks in September during our dry-land training and the Marines were very enthusiastic about it. But I’ll have to check with the NCAA first,” said Walsh, who would have the instructor work with strength and conditioning coach Jim St. Pierre and assistant coach Grant Standbrook.
Walsh called the experience “one of the best 48 hours I’ve ever spent” and said he marveled at the Marines’ discipline and overall conditioning.
He said the different aspects of the training regimen and the drills he learned were “very applicable” to his team.
“Our sport is conducive to mental toughness and discipline. You want to give your players an edge. You want them to get better,” said Walsh. “We’re always looking for ways to improve our program.”
Parks said he found Walsh to be “very attentive” and that the two of them saw eye to eye on a lot of topics.
“It was my pleasure to speak with him and educate myself with a gentleman of his caliber,” said Parks, who added that their respective jobs are similar.
“He is dealing with Generation X’ers just like we are,” said Parks, who added that his job is to transform his young men and women into Marines and Walsh’s job is to develop his hockey players into the best players possible.
“He has that hunger in his eyes and he relays that to his players. That’s what we’re doing here,” said Parks. “If you’re dynamic, you can get dynamic results. I think we could do some amazing things together. I’m sorry we didn’t have more time.”
Parks said if approved by the Marines and the NCAA, it would be “fantastic” to send a drill instructor to Orono to work with the Bears.
Maine freshman goalie Mike Morrison and junior right wing Jim Leger said the idea was intriguing.
“Obviously, the Marines are in shape,” said Morrison. “It’s very stringent and very regimented, but I’m sure it would work with us. It would probably make for a lot harder off-ice training program, but I’m sure it will pay off tenfold.
“One of the things that has kept Maine at the top of their class year after year is the unique way they go about things,” Morrison added. “They’re always trying different things.”
Leger said it would be different, but thinks it would help the team.
“Drill sergeants are tough,” he said. “They get the job done.”
Leger said he witnessed the training regimen used at the U.S. Air Force Academy after visiting the academy during high school.
“Everybody worked out, not just the hockey players. They de “Everybody worked out, not just the hockey players. They dedicated a lot of their day to staying in shape. It’s going to pay off for them,” said Leger.