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Erie Otters Owner Jim Waters On The Dynamic Partnership With CoreFive

Updated: Feb 9, 2021

The relationship between the Erie Otters and CoreFIve Analytics is entering its 7th season. CoreFive’s work with the Otters is focused in the area of character development. The relationship that started during the 2014-15 season has evolved into a dynamic collaboration of forces that’s resulted in a holistic player development model that is truly the definition of “best practice.” Here’s what Team Owner Jim Waters had to say about the partnership between CoreFive and the Otters.

“The Otters make a promise to the parents of every player that comes to Erie that we will do our utmost to help their son reach their potential as a player and more importantly to help them develop the character needed to become a positive role model both on and off the ice. As the owner, I wanted our organization to be recognized for its values, specifically, our conduct, how we treat each other and equally important the respect we show for others we come in contact with on a daily basis.

Prior to the on-set of Covid 19, I had a general idea about the work CoreFive was doing but had never experienced it for myself. Dave Brown, our General Manager and Vice President of Operations suggested that with the season ending prematurely, it would be a good opportunity for our Hockey Operations Staff to go through CoreFive’s character development program. The purpose of the sessions would be to ensure the Hockey Operations group was thoroughly familiar with the current program content as well as offer feedback on how the process could be improved. I participated in the sessions and got to see first hand exactly what the program entailed. It was well worth the effort.

After the Hockey Operations sessions were completed, revisions were made to the original content, activities and processes resulting in a revised program called Route 66. Assistant Coach Wes Wolfe set up a Google Classroom that delivered the content in bite sized chunks as well as providing a more efficient way for the players to submit their homework assignments and receive feedback from the Coaching staff. A schedule of 14 Weekly zoom calls was set up to run the players through the revised program. Otters’ alumni participated as guest speakers for a number of the topics. As the program progressed, Coach Wolfe suggested that we also include Social Issues as part of the player development process. A program called Shiftmakers was initiated by Wes and the Coaching Staff with help from Dr. Hogue, the team’s Sport Psychologist.

The intent of Shiftmakers was to shift others from being non-racist or non-sexist for example to being anti-racist or anti-sexist. Shiftmakers addressed 5 topics, Homophobia, Abuse, Racism, Sexism and Mental Health. Hearing the players discussions and perspectives on these topics was truly amazing. The Otters as an organization will actively partner with others in our community to support and promote these important causes.

I learned a ton going through the program. It forced me to think of things I had not previously considered, as well as thinking about things from different perspectives. I noticed changes in the Coaching Staff. I always knew we had a good staff but I could see growth in their ability to connect with the players regardless of whether it is as an on-ice or off-ice topic. Players were more comfortable expressing their opinions in a group setting, you could see growth in their sense of self. As the program progressed you could see the quality of homework assignments improving. It was very obvious that the group had created a strong bond through the process. The program was so successful that we decided to run our entire Business Operations team through the same program.

I’ve seen the results of this holistic approach to development. It fully supports the values of our organization. I’m more confident than ever about our ability to honor the commitment we make to the parents to provide an environment where their sons can build the foundation they need to reach their potential both on and off the ice. This approach provides us with a sizeable competitive advantage in terms of supporting our culture and helping our players be the best that they can be. From a recruitment perspective, this is really an advantage when you can provide evidence that what you are doing really works.

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