May 31, 2014
The Burnaby Winter Club has turned to the US High School development program to recruit its new Director of Hockey Development.
Maco Balkovec was named to the new full time position by BWC president Ryan Wilson, and General Manager, Len McNeely, at the BWC AGM last night.
The appointment comes just one year after the club launched its new E15 and E18 Academy programs.
Balkovec is returning to Canada after almost twenty years in the United States, where he coached high school hockey programs at Whitefish Bay and Homestead in the Milwaukee area.
He was voted Coach of the Year by the Wisconsin Hockey Coaches Associations in 2012-2013, and Coach of the Year by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, after successfully rejuvenating of the Whitefish Bay program, and taking the team to its first State appearance and sectional championship.
Balcovec was born in New Westminster and played his minor hockey in Port Moody and Burnaby Minor before moving on to the BCJHL with the Cowichan Warriors and the Merritt Centennials where he was named All-Star Defenceman in his final year.
He earned a full scholarship to the University of Wisconsin, where he played for 4 years under Head Coach Jeff Sauer.
In his fourth year with the Badgers, (1994-95) Balkovec was tied for third on the team in overall points, with 4 goals and 34 assists. Fellow defenceman Brian Rafalski finished second in the scoring race for the Badgers that year.
Balkovec was drafted in the fifth round of the 1991 NHL Entry draft 110 overall by the Chicago Blackhawks, and played three years in the ECHL before finishing his pro playing career with Grefrath EG, in Germany in 1996-97.
Balkovec assumes his role in the new full the position of Hockey Director at BWC on July 1.
In a press release that accompanied the announcement, Balkovec notes that the minor hockey landscape in BC is evolving quickly and that his goal is to strengthen BWC’s reputation as the premier destination for hockey development in Western Canada.
“There are so many life lessons that come from playing the game, regardless of the level that you play. My job is to encourage and support the character development of these young players and build their passion for the game.
Balkovec says his job is also to leverage the coaching talent already at the club.
“There are so many successful and well established coaches at BWC; I want to encourage dialogue and create a collaborative environment where we are able to utilize everyone’s experience and learning for the betterment of the entire club.
BWC president Ryan Wilson stated that Balovec’s experience as a teacher and communicator were as important as his hockey experience.
“It was more than just his hockey pedigree that made him the ideal candidate for this position. He has a rare combination of high level communication and coaching skills and a vision of the club that emphasizes the development of kids at all levels of play from his background as a very successful educator in the Wisconsin school system.”
The announcement also points to a renewed commitment by BWC to develop a long term plan for player development.
“In order for any association to be successful,” states Balkovec, “they have to have the ability to grow their talent from within.
“All the kids coming up through the BWC program will have the same access to development opportunities that make the best use of ice time.
“It’s more touches on the puck, and more coaches encouraged and correcting the finer details of the game that will make a difference for all our players.”