Jamie Fiset wears many hats.
He’s a high school teacher, married father of two, and head coach and general manager of the Ridge Meadows Flames junior B hockey team.
So it comes as no surprise that he’s learned to become an expert in time management.
For Fiset, time, as in time to himself, is elusive.
He teaches social studies and history at Langley Secondary School, and twice a week well before the morning bell rings, runs the school’s hockey academy that includes 18 student-athletes.
Husband to Krista and dad to 13-year-old Spencer and 11-year-old Shaughnessy, Fiset is a master juggler, moonlighting as head coach of his daughter’s ringette team and assistant coach of his son’s bantam house hockey team.
And on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 to 11 at night, he runs the Flames’ practices at Planet Ice.
A typical Monday night for Fiset plays out like this: he comes home from work, prepares dinner for his kids, and once a month, motors east to Aldergrove for Shaughnessy’s ringette practice.
It just so happens his son plays his home games Monday nights from 7-9 p.m. at Brookswood’s George Preston Recreation Centre.
So, once Spencer’s game ends, Fiset crosses the Golden Ears Bridge en route to Planet Ice for the Flames’ practice.
The last Flame usually exits the ice surface at around 11:30 p.m.
On what Fiset describes as a “good” Monday night, he leaves the rink at around 12:30 a.m. and heads home to Langley.
Wednesday is the final practice before the Flames’ regular weekend home game, so Fiset sometimes doubles as an assistant equipment manager, ensuring all the jerseys are out and the Gatorade bin is set up. He also checks to make sure supplies aren’t running empty.
“Wednesdays,” Fiset said, “[I leave the rink] closer to one [in the morning].”
“You know what? You get used to it,” he added. “I’m not the kind of person who requires a lot of sleep. That’s been really beneficial.”
On a recent Wednesday night, Fiset lounged on the used couch planted in the middle of the Flames’ dressing room and stuck around as the last load of laundry dried.
He sat down, threw on a movie, and waited.
Fiset is happy to make these kinds of sacrifices because he says that he believes in the Pacific Junior Hockey League and what it stands for.
“I like competing,” Fiset said. “And when I don’t have that element in my life, I get a little edgy.”
He satiates his hunger for competitiveness with a lot of support from his better half.
“If she [Krista] didn’t support it, I wouldn’t be here,” Fiset said. “We always joke that we say goodbye to each other in August and we say hello in mid-April for a couple of weeks.”
When the Flames’ PJHL season ends, Fiset has the luxury of a month off when, he said, “not a lot happens.”
Then it’s back to the hockey grind.
“I do stuff with BC Hockey with their high performance hockey, and I’ve been doing that for eight years,” Fiset said. “Last year was a good example. We finished our season in early March – three weeks later I’m back at the rink for an entire weekend of high performance camp for the under-16s, then two or three weeks after that I’m up in Kelowna for another weekend coaching a team.”
To cap a busy spring of 2012, he oversaw the Flames’ prospects camp in May.
Fiset’s commitment to the Flames began six years ago, when he joined the team as a goaltender coach. He joined the staff through his friendship with the team’s head coach at the time, Russ Weber. Two years later, he stepped up his role, moving behind the bench as an assistant coach behind former bench boss Tavis Eaton.
Last season, when Eaton resigned with seven games remaining in the campaign, Fiset took the head coaching reins.
With Fiset at the helm, the Flames made some noise in the first round of the playoffs, taking the Harold Brittain Conference-leading Aldergrove Kodiaks to six games before bowing out.
The momentum spilled over, somewhat, into the 2012/13 regular season. The Flames have taken points in 16 of 31 games thus far.
Barring a late-season meltdown, the Flames will make the playoffs.
The team’s record is a mediocre 10-15-2-4, but the Flames have already surpassed their totals from last season, when they limped to 11-32-0-1.
“That’s a step in the right direction,” Fiset said. “Although I think we could use some more wins, I’m happy with the improvement I’ve seen.”
Fiset likes his mix of veterans and young players he has to work with this season.
“When we picked this team this year, we picked a team that would be around for 40 games, plus playoffs,” Fiset said.
“We didn’t just go after the best players, we went after players that we knew would fill roles. That’s important when you have such a long season and you have competing interests and players wanting different things. You’ve gotta be able to balance that.”
Junior B players often are headed on different paths, something Fiset acknowledges.
“You’ve got 16- to- 20-year-olds, and they all have different needs, and they are all at different places in their life,” Fiset said.
Some Flames are still in high school, others are pursuing post-season education, others are already working.
A third of the players, Fiset said, have designs on moving up to the higher hockey ranks. He noted that the rest know full well junior B will be the end of their line.
“They’re happy here,” Fiset said. “They just want to play it out here, they’re happy to stay here but again, they still want to compete.”
Keeping the competitive fire under his charges, vets and rookies, is a single, two-word slogan: “Be relentless.” The words decorate signs stuck to two walls on the team dressing room.
Competitiveness aside, for Fiset, coaching junior B hockey is simply a lot of fun. It’s the level of hockey that suits him best.
“If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t be here,” he said. “It fits my lifestyle, right now. It’s pretty clear that this is perfect for me. If I wanted to do junior A, I had to radically change what I do for teaching, or have a diminished role where I’m just a part timer.”
A goaltender, Fiset’s competitive playing career came to a painful end when he was 18. He said he “did the splits too far one day” guarding the crease. He suffered what could be best described as a groin injury on steroids.
“I ripped it off the bone,” Fiset said. “It wasn’t just a tear, it was full on… it was bad. That was just a nasty injury.”