1. Is it difficult having a new assistant coach every couple of years?
No, it's not difficult having an assistant coach every couple of years. I think that my role as a head coach is to be able to bring these young guys in and give them a lot of opportunity to experience many different things in college coaching and hopefully put them in a position where they can then leave and get their own job. Needless to say, I've been blessed with the guys I have chosen.
2. What do you think is the most difficult part of being a head coach?
I don't think there's anything really difficult about being a head coach, I would call it challenges to be honest. The hockey and being with the players is the best part of it. There are a lot of other duties that I have in addition to the coaching and working with the players so you know I think probably one of the biggest challenges would be is not getting enough time to spend with the actual hockey part.
3. Is it difficult to help players adjust from the junior lifestyle to the college lifestyle (Ex: School, Schedule Length)?
I don't think it's difficult to help players adjust from the junior lifestyle to the college lifestyle. I do think it is a challenge though, and with any challenge I think the biggest thing is to take an organized and methodical approach to it. A lot of what the guys experience as freshman is just organizing their time and being able to see how all these things that they have to do in the college daily life fit in to the whole scheme of what they're actually here for.
4. What do you look for in an individual while you are recruiting them?
The number one priority in our recruiting first, and foremost, is that we get great people into our program. There's a million of them out there but they wouldn't all fit into our program here which is why we're really picky about the quality of the person we let into our program
5. How does the coaching staff deal with the demands from the players (Ex: More ice time, Power play time)?
What the most important thing to us as a coaching staff is the team. The team comes before the coach and comes before any player. I think if a player wants more ice time, he wants to get on the Power Play and I don't think that concept is any different than the business world or life in general so people just have to earn what they get
6. Do you look for only talent while scouting, or do you look more for a player’s work ethic and body language throughout a game?
Good question. Talent is actually about fourth-down on the list of priorities on things that are important to us when scouting a player. One of the first things would be obviously to the character in the type of person, second thing would be being a great teammate, third would be being ridiculous hard worker and then I think talent would probably fourth. I am a firm believer you can't teach players to work hard if they don't want to work. I'm also a real big person in terms of body language. I think body language tells exactly what's going on inside a person's head and I think that if I see that bad body language on the player, I tend not look at that guy any longer.
7. Does how a player dress outside of the rink matter to a coaching staff?
I think how a player does anything away from the rink matters to me both as a hockey coach and as a person. I believe that the player is a first line of visibility of their program and it's important that that person represents themselves and their coaches and their program in a first-class manner
8. How does a coaching staff deal with parents who are becoming too involved?
I've been fortunate in 25 years really haven't had a lot of interaction with parents who become too involved. I guess it's probably in two different ways to become involved. One would be directly with me which hasn't happened very often and the other would be to be involved behind the scenes but you know what, the kids are young adults and if they have any questions, they need to see me about it. I did have one player last year whose mother wanted to get into it with me right after the game at Buffalo State in the hallway and when I realized that, the first thing I said to her was, “where is your son” so that he could join our conversation. You should've seen the look on her face, she almost heart attack when I said that. It was obvious that she wanted to get her piece of me with out her son being around and that's one of the rules I have is that if you're going to question my coaching then we actually have to have your son in attendance for this meeting.
9. Jeff Meredith, do you have any advice for an aspiring coach?
My advice would be to try to learn as much as possible, study the game, ask a lot of questions, talk to as many coaches as you can and then network. For my last 5 assistant coaches, I have gone to people I know and trust in this profession in order to get the best possible people. I think young coaches know that I have a track record of moving guys on.
You can learn more about Coach Jeff Meredith and his team at SUNY Fredonia Blue Devils