RDC Kings assistant Cody Reynolds was a coach for Team Alberta at the WHL Cup this October. He will be the Red Deer Midget AAA Optimist Chiefs head coach next season. (Photo by SIX HEARTS CREATIVE STUDIO)

Cody Reynolds takes over as Red Deer Midget AAA Optimist Chiefs head coach

Cody Reynolds is always trying to learn and his latest opportunity will present precisely that.

Reynolds has been with the RDC Kings hockey program for the last seven years and Wednesday, it was officially announced he would take over as the Red Deer U18AAA Optimist Chiefs head coach, in the Alberta AAA Midget Hockey League.

He takes over for Doug Quinn, who guided that program to numerous provincial championships and a pair of Telus Cup National Midget AAA Championships in 2012 and 2013.

“The first thing that comes to mind is I’m very honoured to take over the program,” said Reynolds, who also runs Fox Run Hockey Academy out of Sylvan Lake.

“And to be able to put my own stamp on it. I know there is a lot of deep history with that team. It’s a team that is highly talked about. A prestigious team in my view. I’m very proud to be a part of it.”

Last season, the Optimist Chiefs finished with an 18-11-3 record and only 77 goals allowed, the lowest across AMHL. They were upset by the Calgary Northstars in the first round of the playoffs.

If anything, Reynolds knows what it takes to build a program and allow the players to believe in that common goal. He was instrumental in growing the Kings program from the ground up alongside Trevor Keeper, one that is now a perennial contender in the Alberta College Athletic Association Men’s Hockey ranks.

Reynolds also coached at the WHL Cup this fall, which gathers the best under 16 age category players from across Western Canada.

Keeper explained that the Optimist Chiefs have a good one in Reynolds, who he said is meticulously prepared and a great fit for the Optimist Chiefs.

“He’s smart, he’s a teacher and runs a hockey academy. Really passionate about the game. He’s put in time in the Hockey Alberta program, always wanting to get better,” Keeper said.

“Cody brought a lot of good things to our program over the last seven years. He’ll be really good with the AAA Midgets. He’s an organized guy, knows the game and knows how to develop and teach skill to younger players. That will be a bonus to Red Deer Minor Hockey.”

Reynolds explained that a big part of his time at RDC was establishing a culture and listening to the players, not just as hockey players, but as people too. In the 15-17-year-old age group the challenge of managing personalties is just as great as at the college level.

Also, a teacher, the new Optimist Chiefs coach considers him a lifelong learner and hopes that as he gets better each and every day in his new role, the team will grow and develop with him.

“You have to know the individual kids, what their goals and aspirations are. It’s always a team-first mentality, but within that, you can always be helping develop individual players by developing the team as a whole,” he said.

“We’ll definitely have our style of play, but at the same time, taking into consideration each kids’ strengths and tweaking our style during camp and seeing what type of team we’ll have.”

From his time at RDC, he also knows that a lot of these young players will want to move onto the college level or beyond, so he has to prepare them for that experience from the get-go.

“The one thing that excites me is that development piece and making sure we’re doing our best as a coaching staff to get those kids to where they want to be with their hockey goals,” he said.

“With that age group, especially at that level, all those kids want to continue playing, so that’s going to be a big thing for me making sure we’re giving them the tools to be successful to get to the next level.”

For the time being, all plans for a spring camp and anything over the summer are on hold because of the ongoing situation with COVID-19.

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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