Zeeshan Minhas was passing by a local high school in Scarborough, Ontario in 2006 when he saw field hockey being played on the school field. He walked over and asked the volunteer coach if he could lend a hand.
Minhas was an international hockey player who had recently immigrated to Canada from Pakistan. It was at the L’Amoreaux Collegiate Institute High School in Scarborough where he got his first volunteer coaching position in Canada.
Fast forward 15 years, Minhas is now an integral part of the Canadian field hockey community. He is a coach at all levels, a hockey administrator, and a program facilitator. Field Hockey Canada is thrilled to announce Zeeshan Minhas as the 2021 Development Coach Award Winner.
Minhas is currently the head coach of the York University Lions and runs the Dolphins Field Hockey Club for junior athletes. He has coached at the club, college, regional and provincial level and has supported Field Hockey Ontario’s Nextgen training and ID camps.
For Minhas, taking up coaching was never about recognition. Instead, the value comes by watching young kids learn the sport and develop life skills.
“As coaches, we teach not just hockey skills but also life values — respect, discipline, accountability,” he said. “Watching those develop in a young kid, a university kid … watching them progress is really special.”
After volunteering in the high school league, Minhas saw the potential for reaching more kids in his local community. In 2008, he founded Dolphins Field Hockey Club in the Pickering and Scarborough area of the GTA. Dolphins FHC a hockey club focused on teaching and developing field hockey at the elementary and high school age group.
Minhas takes a lot of pride in seeing the athletes that have come through his programs do well. Whether that’s a university athlete take a contract overseas or be selected for the national teams; or a Dolphins player move into the club and university system.
“I’m motivated to keep coaching. I love watching the kids grow up, learn the game and advance to the next level, no matter what that level that is,” he said. “Many of the kids I have coached have moved on. Just seeing the kids from the community growing and taking it to the next level. That keeps me excited and motivated.”
Minhas coaches at the provincial, regional and university level in Ontario. Photos/Provided
Minhas is an experienced coach at the university level. He first worked as an assistant coach for York University in 2011, then took over as the head coach in 2013. Minhas continues to work as the head coach for York, with Lisa McCrae as his assistant. He credits McCrae as a key collaborator for many years, as she also coaches with Dolphins FHC. With Minhas and McCrae at the helm, York recently won back-to-back OUA titles and USPORTS silver medals in 2017 and 2018.
Minhas can’t predict the future but he does know that coaching will continue play a major role in his life. He anticipates coaching for as long as he loves it, and his body can keep up.
“I’m always trying to grow myself as a coach. I love it,” he said, adding the community aspect of the sport keeps him coming back. “Field hockey is a small community. It’s all about that mutual respect between the parents, athletes and coaches.”
Congratulations to Zeeshan Minhas for being selected as this year’s Development Coach Award winner. We look forward to celebrating all coaches in Canada this week. Use the hashtag #thankscoach and #fhcteamofteams to join the community this week in saying Thanks Coach!