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Interview with TPH Thunder Coach Keith Rowe

Coach Rowe displays passion with his youth teams
Warren Shaw

The TPH Thunder organization has built their developmental platform on solid fundamentals.
Coaching is one of the key components of the organizations winning strategy and Coach Keith Rowe is an example of why it seems to be a difference maker for many AAA youth hockey players and parents looking for an edge.
Rowe has been involved with numerous winning programs, and some even call him a rainmaker based on his ability to take youth teams and mold its players into top twenty standings caliber performers.

Coach Rowe has directed teams with losing records the previous season to impressive improvements sometimes utilizing many of the same players as the year before. His bantam major team this season has gone from below fiftieth place ranking last season to a 24th in the nation ranking this season so far, with many of the same team members as last season.

Part of Rowe’s success can be associated with a key attribute - Passion. He also has a no nonsense approach that motivates his players to improve their consistency. He also has high expectations and communicates them to his players.

In a world where many personal interactions have become dispassionate; Coach Rowe is somewhat of a throwback.
Growing up in youth hockey players will receive many mixed signals from coaches.

Some have the philosophy that youth players should not display any passion on the ice. Coach Rowe believes focused passion can win hockey games.

In the past players like Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Steve Yzerman, Scott Stevens, Mark Messier, Bobby Orr, and many more Hall of Famers were skating in the NHL, passion as well as talent were constantly on display and it helped fill arenas and win Stanley Cups.

Coach Rowe is his fifth full season as a Thunder Head Coach after leading the Bantam Major team to a District Championship and advancing to the Quarter Finals at the USA Hockey Nationals. He has been continually recognized for his exceptional ability to get the most out of his players, along with recruiting some of the best student/athlete talent that possess the skill and commitment to play at the Elite Tier I level.

Rowe is known for his ability to relate to his players and develop youth players to be successful when they move on to the next level.

Keith Rowe was born in Livonia, Michigan outside of Detroit, started his professional career by signing with the Amarillo Gorillas of the Central Hockey League. He joined the club for the 2005 CHL playoffs, and continued to play with Amarillo for three more seasons until 2008. He served as the Gorillas captain during his last two seasons. In the summer of 2008, Keith signed with the Huntsville Havoc of the Southern Professional Hockey League and played there for one year. Prior to his professional playing career, Keith played college hockey for the University of Alabama-Huntsville. Following the completion of his playing career, Keith went into coaching at his alma mater, UAH, where he served as an assistant coach for the 2008-09 season.

Keith began his hockey trek at an early age, and played on elite youth hockey teams in the Detroit area. In 1999, he was named the state’s top amateur player in High School Hockey earning the Mr. Hockey honor. During his junior hockey career, Keith played for the St. Louis Sting, Cleveland Barons and Danville Wings all of the North American Hockey League. He was named to the league’s Western All Star team in 2000-2001.

Keith also works under Rick Comley Jr. for the USHL Central Scouting department. Keith lives in Huntsville with his wife Cynthia and their two dogs Hershel and Molly.

Coach Rowe was available to answer a few questions during a recent interview with youth hockey examiner:

Hockey examiner: Who was your favorite NHL player growing up and why?
Coach Rowe:-Steve Yzerman was a complete player and in my opinion the best leader of all time.

Hockey examiner: What do you look at when evaluating new Thunder players?
Coach Rowe:
1) On-ice talent- have to be able to skate well
2) Work ethic and passion for the game
3) What kind of young man the player is off the ice.

Hockey examiner: -How do you feel about the talk regarding eliminating body checking in youth hockey?
Coach Rowe:
I don’t agree with it, I believe the speed and physical nature of the game is what makes it the greatest game on the planet.

Hockey examiner: What position did you play mostly as a youth player?
Coach Rowe: Winger

Hockey examiner: Did you play a physical game?
Coach Rowe: As a youth player I did not. I realized as I was moving up levels that I had to play physical because I was not skilled enough to play the way I did as a youth.

Hockey examiner: Your success with youth hockey is noteworthy. What is your philosophy?
Coach Rowe: To be passionate, I love to coach and I think the players see that and therefore play with passion themselves. I try to hold them accountable but first I try to make sure they have fun.

Hockey examiner: What frustrates you most?
Coach Rowe: When I don’t communicate well with the players. Sometimes, as coaches, it’s our fault and this frustrates me when I don’t communicate the message properly I’m trying to convey.

Hockey examiner: What excites you most about coaching?
Coach Rowe: Seeing players enjoying the game and enjoying the teammates.

Hockey examiner: What do you feel parents should do to better prepare their children to compete in elite hockey?
Coach Rowe: Help them prepare for facing adversity. All players will face adversity during their hockey careers and they need to learn how to handle and push through it.

Hockey examiner: What are the most important skills youth hockey players need to be successful?
Coach Rowe: Going with all off-ice skills (because all players can control these).

1) Good listener

2) good at handling adversity and

3) being a good teammate.

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