Thunder coach ready for challenge
The game of hockey has been a part of Cam Aplin’s life since he was a child.
Like most Canadian youngsters, Aplin grew up playing the sport and several years later, it has translated into a successful coaching career. Now, Aplin has taken over as head coach of the Airdrie Thunder as the team begins the 2012-2013 season. Aplin grew up in Vermillion, Alta. and played hockey from the age of five up to Junior B. He was 23 years old when he first stepped behind the bench. He began as the assistant coach of a Midget AA team in Sherwood Park and continued coaching for 19 years.
“I liked working with the kids,” he said. “I related to them well and I always wanted the opportunity to make them better and teach them what I learned.”
After beginning in Midget AA 19 years ago, Aplin moved up to Midget AAA for two years and then to Junior B. He also coached his son’s Atom and Peewee teams, but said his passion for coaching has always been in the higher levels.
“I prefer dealing with the young men,” he said. “You’re dealing with them and not the parents, and they’re easy to relate to. They’re looking for some direction and it’s a fun age to be around.
“The best part is seeing the players’ success. You see them improve as a player on and off the ice, and the biggest difference is off the ice. It’s also seeing a team come together.”
Aplin began his Junior B coaching career with the Spruce Grove Regals during the 2001-2002 season. With the Regals, he won Provincials and finished second at the Western Canada Keystone Cup. The Regals were defeated 2-1 in the final by the Sicamous Eagles, which featured Nashville Predators’ Captain Shea Weber.
Aplin then spent four years with the Beverley Warriors and took the team to Provincials three times. After spending most of his coaching career in Edmonton, Aplin and his family, which includes his wife, his son, 15, and his daughter, 7, relocated to Airdrie after he was transferred to the FortisAlberta office in Calgary. He took a two-year hiatus from coaching, but is returning to coach the Thunder, a move he said had been in the works for nearly a year before Thunder General Manager Frank McAvoy named him as head coach earlier this spring.
“We were trying to get the family settled, but I was going down and watching the Thunder all the time,” he said. “I talked to Frank last year and the coaching position happened to open up and he gave me a call. It’s worked out pretty well.”
As the team finishes off the five-game pre-season, Aplin has his sights set high and he’s hoping to take the new squad to a tournament he knows well: Provincials. All the while, he’s hoping to breathe new life into the team with a coaching style he’s spent nearly two decades developing.
“I believe I bring a good knowledge of the game,” he said. “I can relate to the players and how they can play a better team game as a group.”