The Cummins name is fairly well known in both ice and inline hockey circles around Ireland. So most people will know that Jamie is the younger brother of Mick and Paul and it will come as no surprise that Jamie is as interested in growing and developing the sport as much as his brothers. Together all three have brought a new dimension and fantastic enthusiasm to the sport here in Ireland.
Jamie has been playing inline hockey for a long time and he first laced up his ice skates in Dundalk when the Dundalk Ice Dome opened. He then went on to play in the IIHA’s IIHL Development Division in the 2007/2008 season where the Kilkenny City Storm was pipped to the title by a strong Dublin Wolves side. Although, it was a very tight season and everything went down to the wire. Another season with the Storm followed in 2008/2009 before the Storm’s players joined the Whalers in the 2009/2010 season in order to ensure that both clubs could get a team together.
At the same time, Jamie kept on playing inline hockey in Kilkenny while he along with his brothers and the other players from Kilkenny travelled on a weekly basis to Dundalk just so they could get on the ice! He has also been working with Paul to grow and develop the junior programme in Kilkenny and has had a great time in doing it.
So when Jamie applied to the IIHA to attend the 2011 IIHF Hockey Development Camp in Vierumaki, Finland as part of the Learn To Play Instructor Programme, it came as no surprise to many that he was chosen.
The IIHA’s Editor Martin Grant caught up with Jamie late last week for a Questions and Answers session for IIHA.org.
Where and how did you first start to play inline hockey?
When I was about 8 or 9 I started playing street hockey in Kilkenny because we could buy street sticks and skates out of our local sports shop. Which brought us to trying to find someone to play against and we could never find another team! When we got into our teens we stopped playing for a couple of years and then a friend found the East Coast Blaze northern team and got in contact with their manager! Philip the ECB manager drove down from Belfast to Kilkenny a week or two later with hockey gear for everyone! So that’s how it all began!
What was your first taste of ice hockey?
My first taste of ice hockey was in the Dundalk ice rink. I remember going there and thinking it can’t be too much different from Inline. Man I was wrong!
How did you find the transition from inline to ice? What was the hardest part of it?
The transition was hard and still is because with Inline hockey the puck doesn’t slide too well so most of the time your over compensating for that with your stick handling! Also skating was the big thing because I could stick handle and shoot but had to concentrate on my feet and try and get them to do what I wanted them to do! Learning to stop on ice was the hardest part!
We’ve seen recently on IIHA.org in an interview with your brother, Paul Cummins, that the junior programme in Kilkenny is going very well. How is it going and how does it look for the future in Kilkenny?
Yes our junior program is going extremely well with our under 12’s squad and also our youth squad. Recently our youth squad played the Cork revolution youth team and won very well, which was a massive boost for our young team. The hardest thing with any sport is trying to keep interest high and the best way of doing that is matches! With our senior league kicking back off again it has brought a lot of interest again but I think to keep this sport alive and also to compete at a higher level whether it’s Ice or Inline, we need a strong learn to play and junior hockey program which I think with the current lack of ice should be Inline programs to start and then when available the option of ice hockey can be given to the players!
How and why did you first become involved in coaching?
It was actually my brother Paul that started me coaching because I had helped him with his skating and stick handling when he first joined the sport! Also, with trying to learn how to improve my own skills, I used to look at different drills I could do to better my all around play so coaching the kids kind of came natural.
What is it that interests you the most about it?
Just seeing the people your coaching getting faster, better and stronger at the sport. It gives you great pride seeing your team getting better and stronger every game.!
We know that you’ve been selected to attend Vierumaki as a coach in the LTP programme – what was it that first interested you in this programme?
When my brother came back from Finland last year we went through a lot of stuff that he had experienced over there – different drills, games and also utilising your ice time and space. The knowledge that he received from the trainers in Finland was amazing. That caught my interest straight away!
Are you excited about going to the Camp?
I’ve been counting down the days ever since I found out I got picked! This is a chance in a lifetime!
What are you hoping to gain from it the most?
I’m hoping to gain the knowledge to further this sport in Ireland and also to further my own skills on the ice.
What is the one piece of advice that you would give to somebody looking to get involved in coaching?
Take any and every opportunity to further your own skills and the skills of your team.
What are your plans for the future in hockey?
Just to play and to coach people to play the game I love to the best of my ability.