The “C” You In The Major Leagues Foundation and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC) have announced Kansas City Youth Hockey Association (KCYHA) coach Jim Krueger as the July “Blue KC Coaches with Character” honoree.
“No one that gets into coaching youth sports does it for the recognition, so for the first time in ages I might be at a loss for words,” said Krueger, currently the coach of
a KCYHA 14U travel team. “As a lot of coaches do, I missed the competitiveness that the game gave me, and I was lucky enough to find it again behind the bench. I’m a lucky guy doing what I do. I get to travel the country with great people and be part of the game I’ve known almost my entire life. And to know I make an impact on
these players bigger than the game of hockey means more to me than words can say.”
Selected from nominations submitted online at CYouInTheMajorLeagues.org, with one honoree announced each month throughout the 2017 MLB season, each “Blue KC Coaches with Character” honoree will be interviewed on 810 WHB, receive a VIP gift package from Blue KC and CYITML, and will be invited to meet Royals General Manager and CYITML Founder Dayton Moore at an event in September at Kauffman Stadium. Additionally, Blue KC will make a $2,000 donation to CYITML in honor of each selected coach.
“One of the key things we stress with the foundation is students and athletes developing into men and women of character by knowing how to be better
teammates,” said Moore. “By stressing the little things, Coach Krueger is teaching his athletes how to be great teammates on the ice and at home. Those lessons will stay with those athletes into adulthood.”
Using a combination of lessons he learned by watching others and learning from his own experiences, Krueger came to a coaching philosophy that involves a high level
of responsibility, respect and accountability for his athletes.
“I put the team in charge of everything that goes into being a team—from carrying the water bottles, calling me if they are going to be late or miss a practice, to being in charge of their own equipment,” said Krueger, who has taken his teams to four championships—a 2011 Midwest League title followed by three Missouri State championships in 2012, 2013 and 2017. “Your mom or dad doesn’t always know when you need your skates sharpened or when you need to re-tape your stick. You as the player do. I admit my teams tend to go over our water bottle budget each season since 13- and 14-year- olds don't always remember to pick them up after a game, but its worth it when I hear other coaches or parents make a comment about how awesome it is that we make the team do the little things.”
Another key aspect for Krueger’s teams is maintaining a commitment to academics. Even though he coaches a travel team, he asks that his players prioritize school and to use travel time to work on assignments.
“Each season we discuss the time that hockey takes from each family, and we make it a point to let them know that academics come first,” said Krueger. “I want them to
take the time in the car to get everything done so they aren’t scrambling Sunday night when they get home from a weekend of games.”
The high expectations Krueger has for his athletes are only a reflection of what he asks of himself. According to Michiko Snell, the mom of a former KC Mavs player who nominated Krueger for the Blue KC Coaches with Character honor, the coach sets an excellent example through his respect for parents, his commitment to fairness and his dedication to character development.
“I truly wish that my son could have him just one more year as coach,” said Snell. “He has encouraged him to be the best that he can be, and I can not think of a better coach to be honored as a Blue KC Coach with Character. His knowledge, skill and humor make him a one of the best coaches in the Kansas City Youth Hockey Association.”
Between now and the end of the MLB season, Blue KC and CYITML will select two more area coaches to be recognized as Blue KC Coaches with Character. The honorees will be chosen based on nominations from the public, which will be accepted until early September.
“At Blue KC, we are passionate about our community, and coaches like Jim Krueger are doing so much to make it a better place to live, work and play,” said Christina Lively, Department Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Blue KC. “We’re thrilled to honor Jim this month and thank him for the impact he is making on young hockey players in our community. His work is truly making a difference.”
Those who would like to nominate an amateur coach for the Blue KC Coaches with Character program are encouraged to visit CYouInTheMajorLeagues.org/bluekc.