---- Hockey dreams of Aylmer’s Luca Byrne
Ready for another exciting season of coaching some of the region’s most highly-touted hockey prodigies, Aylmer-native Luca Byrne feels extremely grateful to be back on the rink after being kept away for so long.
Starting the busiest year of his young coaching career to this point, Byrne will be debuting as head coach of l’école polyvalente Nicolas Gatineau’s Benjamin Division-1 hockey team – roughly the equivalent of Pee Wee AAA – coaching part-time with the Outaouais Intrépide’s Pee Wee AAA team, and will also start another new gig as the first-ever video coach for the new CEGEP de l’Outaouais Griffons Division-1 hockey program. Plus – for his full-time job – Byrne is an assistant technical director of l’école Polyvalente Nicolas-Gatineau’s Sports Études hockey program and is in his third year in that position.
Dividing around 30 hours between being on the ice and in the office, the gig focuses mainly on monitoring and helping students’ daily development on and off the ice throughout the school year. “That’s a lot of hockey this year,” Byrne said.
Currently in his fourth year with the Intrépide program, the 25-year-old feels grateful for the opportunity to coach hockey full-time – the best possible thing besides playing the game – and humbled to help provide kids the privilege of playing their favourite sport in a competitive and academic setting. “Everyone has that dream of playing in the NHL,” Byrne said. “For me, it was about how I could translate my lack of hockey skills as a player to that same dream.”
With so much of his time nowadays centred on hockey, hockey and hockey, life has been very fulfilling for this Aylmerite. Working on exciting projects and planning for the future, he’s always striving for bigger and better opportunities – hoping to make it as far as he can go, perhaps even the big leagues. “I’m very happy about where I am,” Byrne said. “But I’m definitely going be pushing for the next 30 years to progress not only as a person but also as a coach.”
Byrne’s first coaching opportunity came near the end of his minor hockey years, as an instructor at Maxtech’s hockey camp when he was 17 years old – after persistently pressing the camp’s General Manager Randy Bennett for a chance to prove himself. Over time, with dedication and drive, Byrne went from instructing Maxtech hockey clinics during the summertime, to volunteering for Aylmer minor teams, before eventually landing spots coaching part-time for the Sports Études program – all while studying psychology at the University of Ottawa.
Now graduated from school and a full-time coach, Byrne credits his persistence and desire to be involved with the game as the keys to his success. “For a few things in my life, I put in a lot of time and energy,” Byrne said. “The one thing I did that for was hockey. I would watch hockey; I would watch clinics … just putting in the extra time. It’s always a work in progress for me.”
Despite not pursuing psychology as a career, Byrne believes knowledge acquired from his time studying it has paid dividends with his current job by helping him connect with his players even more than before. “Understanding people and how they communicate and how they feel is a very powerful tool as a coach,” Byrne said.
For Byrne, the most enjoyable aspect of coaching and being around hockey is growing and striving for success with a group of people, as well as guiding the next generation in the right direction.