VIERUMÄKI, Finland – He played in ten World Championships, two Olympics and 17 NHL games. Now Reinhard Divis wants to give something back not only to the girls at the 2014 IIHF Hockey Development Camp but even more at home where he wants to make sure there will be world-class goalies following into his footsteps.
Divis is one of the participants in the Goalkeeper Coach Development Program. On Team White he’s sharing his experience and coaching skills with his young netminders Inka Kuusinen from Finland and Maria Meza from Mexico.
Off the ice he learns about coaching and setting up an education program where he sits with fellow male and female goaltending coaches from Australia, Finland, Iceland, Israel and Turkey.
For the Austrian it was a new experience and his two pupils enjoyed learning from a celebrity.
“It was the first time I was coaching girls although for my work it doesn’t matter whether I’m coaching female or male goalkeepers. But it’s definitely a new experience since I’m used to coaching professional goalkeepers and you have to talk more different and more sensitive to women,” Divis said.
“I’m happy for this experience and I learned a lot here. I also made lots of new contacts, which is important if you want to develop a program. We had people here from countries like Finland and Canada who are very helpful to us. It’s worth gold to see how their programs work and how you can adapt them in your own organization.”
Divis, who was the first Austrian to play in the NHL, quit goaltending as a 36-year-old in 2012 after a foul that required back surgery. That was with the Vienna Capitals from his hometown.
It was Alpo Suhonen, the Finnish Sport Director of the Austrian Ice Hockey Association, who sent him to Vierumäki. “For me the camp is about developing a goaltending coaching program in Austria,” said Divis, who was the goalie coach for the U18 and U20 national teams in IIHF competitions this year.
When Suhonen started to rebuild the sport structure within the Austrian Ice Hockey Association he approached retiring players like Divis to turn into coaching.
“It was a generation that also included Dieter Kalt and Christoph Brandner who were also asked to help rebuilding Austrian hockey. It was an easy decision for me. I’m in charge for all goalkeepers and now I’m asked to push goalie education. It sounds easy but it’s not since there hasn’t been anything in this direction so far,” Divis said.
“We are not the most famous hockey country but we’re still playing at a good level but considering that level of play we still have to improve in certain areas like this.”
Divis brings new experiences from the camp and examples from other countries to Austria once he leaves. But once he arrives the real work will start for him and he’s ready for that.
“We’ll need a goalkeeper coach manual. We have to work with the clubs to make sure there are more goalie coaches in the system. In Vierumäki I have the chance to see what bigger federations are doing and work on a concept before I can ask for funding for our program.”