Jon Forbes selected as OMHA Coach of the Month

Parent: ‘He encourages our boys to have fun and be good humans off the ice’

ERIN – This season marks the sixth year the Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA) has presented its Coach of the Month awards.

The association selected Jon Forbes, of the Erin-Hillsburgh U13 B team, for the honour in December.

“It was a total surprise,” Forbes told the Advertiser.

The coach was selected by OMHA after a nomination, followed by kind words, was sent in by parent Melissa Shewman.

“It was really nice what she said. I mean, it means a lot when the parents recognize what you do as a volunteer,” Forbes said.

‘Involved, engaging and uplifting’

In her nomination Shewman  noted  Forbes provides each player positive comments after each game  and provides “communication with parents that is more than expected.”

“Jon has made such an impact on my son and the team,” she wrote.

“Jon has built a program on progression and every practice the boys build on what they’ve learned. He reviews each piece, and if confusion, demonstrates himself and skates side by side with the boys until they’re comfortable.”

Shewman stated that despite two tough losses to start the year, Forbes helped the players stay positive and  motivated to improve.

“He encourages our boys to have fun and be good humans off the ice and on promoting team unity, sportsmanship and pride with his kind words and speeches,” she stated.

Off the ice, Forbes and a handful of parents put together a food drive.

“As a team, we are aiming to deliver meals to families in need across the town,” Shewman wrote.

“He is involved, engaging, uplifting and deserves to be recognized for how amazing he is as a volunteer coach for our sons.

“I’ve never seen my own son look up to a new coach so quickly and I’m proud and lucky to have him in our lives.”

Coach Forbes

Coach Forbes grew up playing minor hockey in the London area and played Junior ‘B’ for the London Nationals.

He moved to Toronto prior to having kids to pursue his career in teaching in Caledon at Mayfield Secondary School, where him and his wife have been teaching since 2004.

He began coaching the girls’ hockey team at the high school and then, wanting to be closer to the school, Forbes and his wife moved to Caledon 17 years ago, right near the border of the Town of Erin.

“We moved up here just because of the space, the sense of community, small-town values [and] all of those things that we really liked about the area,” he explained.

Forbes later began coaching in the OMHA when his now 12-year-old son was five.

“As he progressed in hockey, I followed through with my qualifications and took Hockey Canada and OMHA courses to qualify me to be a coach, first at local league, then moving onto the rep hockey league,” he said.

‘Food is our goal’

Over the years he has coached the Erin-Hillsburgh Devils, Forbes and the team have developed a philosophy of “representing where you’re from and who you play for …

“It’s one thing to play for Erin-Hillsburgh and have the crest on your jersey, but we want the players to understand that being representative of that community is just as important [if not] more important,” said Forbes.

The team together looks at causes in the community and every year selects one it can connect the community with.

This season the motto became “food is our goal,” which was an organized food drive.

“We’re pretty privileged to have the opportunity to play rep hockey. This is something that costs money and a lot of people don’t have the money or the means to put food on their table,” said Forbes.

“We organized the food drive, to help the community, but also to teach the boys a lesson about what it is to live in a community and what it is to be part of a community.”

In the past, the team has also been known to raise money for the local Legion through selling poppy stickers, and for the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada by selling grey ribbons after a community member died from cancer.

“We understand that… representing your community, understanding who lives in your community and making connections is really important,” said Forbes.

‘Joy of the game’

He told the Advertiser his favourite part about coaching minor hockey is the connections.

“We’re not going to win every game; we always try, [but] that’s part of the lesson is to try your best in every situation and we celebrate every success,” he said.

“The favourite thing that I have, is to see them grow as hockey players, see them achieve goals and see them celebrate some level of success.

“That’s what I like the most, is just those connections and seeing successes and the joy of the game and having fun out there.”