SFU Hockey Alum Kale Wild recently returned from a very unique hockey coaching experience. Kale flew to Beijing China to help run a hockey camp. We had the chance to ask him a few questions about the trip.
SFU: What exactly were you doing in China?
KW: I came to China to help run a hockey camp in Beijing, and we also went to Quindao for 4 days to play in a tournament. It has been busy, we’re with the kids in the camp from 9-5 every day, then try to be tourists at night. We don’t sleep much then do it again the next day.
SFU: How did you get involved with helping to coach a camp there?
KW: My coach from junior was hired about two years ago to run a minor hockey program in Beijing. They were running a camp this summer and thought it would be good to have North American coaches come over. It was only about a month before the trip that we got the confirmation that we would be going.
SFU: What is the biggest difference between players in China and Canada?
KW: Not much of a difference to be honest. The kids are between 6-11 years old, and act like every other kid their age. The biggest challenge has been the language barrier, some players speak very little English, and the ones who speak more often help translate, we also have an interpreter with us all day. The players really enjoy the game, but they don’t have the same knowledge that players in North America do. I’ve been impressed by their skills, but the honey sense that comes along with watching your whole life isn’t quite there. When we asked “who is Sydney Crosby?” A player responded “he makes my hockey gear” because the saw the name on their pads.
SFU: What has been the best part of coaching there?
KW: Just trying to soak up the different culture. My coach told us that you can’t describe China, you just have to experience it. I’m not the most adventurous eater so I was a little worried about the food, but the food ended up being one of the best parts about the trip. We tried some different stuff (pig brain, squid, cow stomach, etc) and I’m glad I tried it. Everything is very hectic here, it doesn’t seem like they have traffic laws. We’ve met people from all over the world, and actually bumped into the same group of Americans on two separate occasions in different parts of the city, small town Beijing.
SFU: What has been the toughest thing to adjust to?
KW: The jet lag was tough, our after work nap on day 3 ended up being 16 hours. The heat has been intense, you will shower before dinner and by the time you get to the restaurant it looks like you went swimming with your clothes on. The language barrier obviously made things difficult, we used a lot of pictures on our phones to communicate, and tried to find restaurants with pictures on their menu. We’ve also had some issues with taxi driver trying to charge us 10x more for a trip back to the hotel than when we leave, so as a result we have taken “tuck tucks” ( a motorcycle with 2 seats on the back) instead.
SFU: Since finishing school what have you been up to?
KW: Since finishing schools I have been working as an associate at Raymond James Ltd. a large wealth management firm. I work very closely with our professional athlete clients (mainly hockey) so it’s nice to stay close to the game while working. Last season I was an assistant coach with my junior team’s U18 team (The new midget AAA in Ottawa). I play hockey 2-3 times a week to keep myself in shape. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 2 years since I finished at SFU and I hope to make it out there for a visit shortly.