Lesley Smyth is currently a Sports Performance Consultant, Licensed Counsellor, and owner of Mindfit, a sports clinic offering individual, parent, and team sessions focusing on enhancing athletic performance. She currently volunteers with the Moncton Major U18 AAA Flyers providing support to strengthen their mental game on and off the ice.

Four years ago, I was approached by the Flyers’ organization to consider joining their team as an additional resource; to work and support the players with their mental game and provide mental health counselling. Being a hockey parent with a son in the minor hockey system, I was intrigued to learn more about the organization from within, not just from the casual commentary from the many hockey enthusiasts in the stands. Because of my profession and commitment to youth sports, I have been relentless in wanting to understand, learn, and, if given the chance, positively influence the hockey culture and environment of the teams within our community; so, with little hesitation, I accepted the opportunity. I was familiar with the
Flyers and personally knew a few of the board members that had been active with the team for over 30 years—it was apparent that there must be a strong bond for people to want to be a part of an organization for that length of time and I was looking forward to understanding and being a part of the experience.

Being extremely passionate about sports, especially hockey, the opportunity to join this team had the potential to be a very good fit; however, I was not fully convinced that what I had to offer would be valued or implemented without a bit of convincing. My competitiveness fueled my interest to take on the challenge and upon seeing the players and staff embrace the tools for a stronger mindset, I was relieved, excited, and committed to volunteer my time with this group.

The past few seasons have exposed an understanding as to why so many volunteer their time to support these young players; there is a commonality among us to create a positive environment for the development and growth of the players, on and off the ice.

With it being the Flyers’ 50th anniversary this season, I will share what I have come to know and respect about the team; a collection of stories behind the culture and successful traditions of the Moncton Flyers—stories of the heart and effort that have contributed to the success of the team.

The Flyers’ Way
Lesley Smyth
An extensive resume of wins; an impressive list of past, present, and, undoubtedly, future professional players; unmeasurable player success in the QMJHL, NCAA, USports, Junior, MHL, and more; draft picks, awards, and camp invites; the Moncton Major U18 AAA Flyers, as the name stands today, have paved a reputation of a winning organization admired and coveted by many. However, unbeknownst to those on the outside, The Flyers’ Way is not fueled by the on-ice wins; in fact, the successes over the 50-year history are simply the by-product of the commitment and values that drive the efforts of those involved to implement a formula that encompasses the process of development and growth of the player on and off the ice.

The Flyers’ Way is a collective effort of 18 enthusiastic volunteers (who function more like a family than members of an organization) protectively overseeing every detail that supports the growth and development of the players. Each of the volunteers is emotionally invested and committed to being an intricate piece of the team’s success, including passionate and experienced coaches; a full-time physiotherapist and a massage therapist, a sport and mental health counsellor; and an impressive group of team members overseeing and investing their time toward the operational details of fundraising, marketing, the website and social media accounts, the finances, and the countless other details requiring attention to keep the team running smoothly.

At the center of it all are the young men who are fortunate to be a Flyer and be a part of an experience that goes above and beyond what one might expect from a minor league team. Not only are the players a part of a family with responsibilities and held to a high standard of expectations, they are also provided with an abundance of privileges—their own history-filled locker room, access to skate-sharpening, laundry services, video review, a bus for travel, clothing and items branded with the signature Flyers’ logo, and so much more. The volunteers involved are dedicated to creating a professional-like environment conducive to growing together as a team and preparing for the next level of hockey.

The Flyers’ Way is reflected in the volunteers who are drawn together because of a passion for coaching, a love for the sport, a past experience with being a Flyer themselves, having a family connection to the team, or simply because they want to be a part of something that represents a culture of commitment, development, and success. They embrace the team’s philosophy and choose to give their personal time, energy, and effort for the betterment of the team—all in addition to their full-time jobs, young children and families, and other personal commitments.

As the Flyers embark on their 50th season, an impressive milestone involving a history of achievements by many, there will be many unknowns and uncertainties as to how hockey will reveal itself with new policies and adjustments recently being implemented to ensure a safe return for all players. For many organizations, these uncertainties may invoke a sense of panic or stress, but for the Flyers, this is just another experience where the family of volunteers and players will demonstrate the effectiveness of the team’s culture—embracing challenges, focusing on the process of development, and managing what is in their control, resulting in a cohesive group committed to being better every day in every situation. The Flyers’ Way encourages adaptability and being flexible to change; the uncertainties they face are not seen as hinderances, but instead as an opportunity to evolve and implement changes that are consistent with the team’s values. The unknowns will not derail the long standing tradition of culture and success the Flyers have heavily relied upon for 50 years; they will not shy away from a challenge or crumble when faced with adversity—they will only get better.

The Flyers—players, coaches, staff—exemplify what it means to work together, to grow together, and to adapt to meet the varying needs of the players and creating an environment where they can experience success. The celebration and reflection of the past 50-years of the Flyers’ journey will undoubtedly contribute to the team’s future successes for many years to come.