On a truly beautiful, warm, Canadian, August morning, the 2001 Toronto Marlboros met at Canlan to make the journey to once again revisit “the place where it all began:” The Nottawasaga Resort. Coach Gialedakis, with less chaperones than any other time in team history, and a team of very eager elite athletes, all pulled together to load vehicles to begin another chapter in the personal and team success story of the 2001 Toronto Marlboros! To say: “we began a journey towards creating lifelong memories,” would be a significant understatement!
Just like last year’s camp, the team faced long, focused, and highly intense days of training. Each player/s day consisted of 2-ninety minute on ice sessions, run by Coach Gialedakis, 3 dry land training sessions run by Jim Reeves, and it should be noted that he team chaperones and coaching staff were right in the thick of things, right from the beginning! If you think that this sounds like a lot to handle, add in “class-time” each day, followed by homework after dinner, and each player experienced a one of a kind, unique training experience that would rival any pro training camp in any sport. The fundamental differences between the previous year’s camp and this year’s camp are just too numerous to mention, however, ask a player what their highlight was, and you will be surprised at the variety of different and positive responses!
Having set the bar to what outsiders may view as an “impossibly high standard,” Coach Gialedakis’ goal was to continue the high caliber training that his team grew accustomed to. He set a foundation in the 2011 camp, along with intense training throughout last year’s season, which all contributed to the pending success of this upcoming year. “Expectations are high” say Gialedakis! We returned to Nottawasaga to treat our players like pros. We chose this resort because it has all of the amenities to deliver top notch training in a high-end facility.” Couple this with the SWAT team of highly dedicated chaperones, who feed, hydrate, and support the team, and we have the foundation for a winning environment and the potential for a championship season. Toss in a huge amount of laughter, personal satisfaction for a job well done, and an overall remarkable bonding experience, and you can begin to understand why each player loved this camp!
Each and every day, the team met physical challenges that tested their will to continue. Their muscles ached, their minds were full of new information to process, and new heights of achievement were accomplished daily. When asked what he thought of the camp, one of the returning players said: “It’s very hard and I feel so tired every night, but I feel like I’m getting better every single day! Coach Louie has taught me how to push myself and exceed my limits.” After speaking to a new team member of the Marlboros, and getting his feedback on what was a brand new experience, he said: “I had the best time this week! It was hard work, but I still had a lot of fun! I can’t wait until the season begins!”
Class time was highly motivational and very informative. The emphasis on being a great player, and making the best on-ice contribution possible, took a back seat to the emphasis on “Education First!” This message was driven home repeatedly and supported by the requirement of each player to do nightly homework, and to be able to get up in front of his teammates the next day, and clearly articulate the value proposition of the lessons learned. The added bonus of the “Education First” approach came through the ample opportunities each player experienced to stand up in front of his team to “public speak.” This well known confidence building strategy worked wonders for each player, as daily, they would grow more articulate in front of their teammates, and speak with a confidence and authority that clearly supports the value proposition of the Gialedakis model of “Education First.”
Coach Gialedakis’ goal was to have the team “THINK BIG” and place “ZERO LIMITATIONS” upon themselves. Thinking like an athlete that is contributing to the greater good/goals of the team, rather than just an individual hockey player, encompasses every facet of great athletics. This was reflected in the team’s work books, leadership through public speaking, and self-evaluations. Each player’s notes had them “thinking outside the box,” in a way that showed them that there are several paths to success, and the hard work they put in today would be reflected in what they attain in the future.
All in all, week one was a huge success! The players returned to their families, late Thursday evening for a weekend of rest and recovery, only to meet again for week two, early on Monday morning.
Week two of the camp began with a great combination of high learning expectations, deeper friendships, the anticipation that "something great is about to happen," and as a "hold-over" from last week: very sore musscles! The bar was raised, goals were set, and everyone shared a mutual understanding of what was expected and how it was they needed to soldier through the tasks at hand, to achieve the excellence that Coach Gialedakis expected.
Being a very well-seasoned Head Coach, Gialedakis had a few major surprises up his sleeves and nobody was disappointed! Major corporations like: Microsoft, Google, IBM, and Apple, all spend incredible time and resources in sourcing out the latest and greatest techniqes for team building.
Borrowing from his past experiences and also from great business leaders of our time, Coach Gialedakis brought in the specialist that conducts team building workshops for those same types of corporations, and introduced the team to internationally renown drummer/author/clinician: Jeff Salem, and his incredibly enjoyable hand-drumming workshop!
The players loved this experience, and the entire team absolutly played their hearts out! Who knew the Toronto Marlboros had so many aspiring drummers in their midst? To watch the enjoyment on the faces of each of the player, as they played on and learnded about drums from: Africa, Cuba, and Spain, not only resulted in very positive feelings to all involved, there was also serveral enhanced team-building concepts that were subtly and masterfully introduced by Mr. Salem, that resulted in much deeper bonds of friendship and team spirit, by the end of the session!
Another outstanding concept event devised by Coach Gialedakis came about on the second last night of camp. The team was taken out to a fire pit, where a large bonfire was lit. Sitting around this bonfire, each player had the opportunity to stand before his team and share his positive personal feelings about each of his teammates. This was a truly deep and highly meaningful experience for each player and the evening came to a tasteful and successful conclusion with a grand-scale "S'more Roast!"
The second week of training camp was capped off perfectly with a very enjoyable round of golf. It was during this time together that the boys expanded the parameters of their friendships, experienced the huge disconnect between taking a blistering slap-shot and "flubbing" a tee-off shot, and of course, learned that Coach Gialedakis is a true model of "golf-fashion-excellence!" One must wonder if the golf course at the Nottawasaga Inn Resort had ever experienced such great levels of laughter, enjoyment, and team building!
As the week drew to a close, the mental and phyical growth of the team was joyfully obvious for all concerned! The players thought carefully about what they ate, they made exercise an ongoing priority, and they grew to treat each other as brothers. A team united in the relentless pursuit of excellence was one of the initial and most important goals of this 2001 Toronto Marlboros training camp as outlined by Coach Gialedakis. Mission Accomplished!