Meet Stéphane Gros, Manager and Head Coach of Hockey Club Morzine-Avoriaz
“From the youngest players taking their first slide on the ice to the oldest teams, I am here to encourage and support everyone.”
“I left the Hockey Club Morzine-Avoriaz in 2009. Having started my professional coaching career with the club, I needed new challenges and also to see if I was able to work in an environment other than the one I knew so well. My return to the club in 2019 came naturally, when the managers contacted me again and presented a new challenge; to bring the club back up into the Ligue Magnus, the top division of the French league, within three years. Even after 10 years away from the team, I returned to find the same strong family club, which is still professionally organised and has great ambition for the future.
Our club has always had a special place in the hearts of the inhabitants of Morzine and the surrounding area. The history of the club, and the emotions it generates, encourage every Morzinois to follow the club and to enjoy meeting up at the Skoda Arena on game nights. Many local children also play ice hockey, which usually means their parents follow the highs and lows of the club even more
I have two roles at the club – that of team manager and also head coach. They are quite different! As the manager of Hockey Club Morzine-Avoriaz, I supervise the organisation of our entire sports programme. From the youngest players taking their first slide on the ice to the oldest teams, I am here to encourage and support everyone. I work with Loïc Gaydon, our under 13s and under 15s coach, and Eric Gianferrari our under 11s coach, on the training plans for all team categories. I participate in some on-ice and off-ice sessions with the youngsters, I plan all the training sessions for each team in conjunction with the management of the ice rink. There’s always lots to organise! In addition to these game-based tasks, and in collaboration with Sandrine Berger, our administration manager, I work to encourage new sponsors to support the club while collaborating with our many faithful partners, some of whom have been with us for many years.
Finally as the head coach of our elite team, I prepare each player throughout the week so that they are ready to play their very best game each weekend. This involves on-ice training, off-ice strategy, video training and much more. My days are very busy!
When I rejoined the club in 2019, the goal for the elite team was to move back up to the top division within three years. We’d last played in the Ligue Magnus in 2015. Unfortunately the Covid 19 pandemic brought this goal to a halt; my first season with the club was left unfinished, my second has barely started as I write. Yet it seems that this year is back to normal, with all the measures that have been put in place to keep us safe and to move forward from the pandemic. So far, the season is going very well for us as a team and also – this is especially important – for the young people who have been deprived of competition for too long.
Our objectives at Morzine-Avoriaz Hockey Club are very simple this year. We want to win the championship and move up to the top division. We also want to continue to develop the club, especially in terms of training at all levels and for all ages. For the years to come, it will be important to keep the club at a high level of sporting and organisational standards, in particular when it comes to welcoming spectators and partners to the Skoda Arena. We must continue to make our village proud of the team that carries its name and I believe that with the support of the village – and the many loyal visitors who join us for their holidays each winter – we can fulfil all of our objectives.
I’m often asked about the preparations we take on each match day. But for me, the day of the match is not the most important part of the preparation. Everything must be done during the week before a match to ensure that the players are at their best physical and mental level when the klaxon sounds. We train three evenings each week with the full team and an additional two mornings with our professional players. There is a lot of tactical setup and video sessions to prepare for our matches and my aim is always that when the time comes for the game, every player will know what they have to do in order to be victorious. I’m very clear on this – planning is everything.
“Our club has always had a special place in the hearts of the inhabitants of Morzine”
Hockey is an incredible sport and I am very passionate about our club. Speed, precision, teamwork and physical commitment are just some of adjectives that sum up our sport well. There is a lot of activity on the ice rink during a match and there are many goals in each game. The action is fast-paced and energetic, even for those who do not understand all of the rules! This is what usually appeals most to the often newbie spectators during the winter season. The atmosphere can be electric! There is also a show during the match and our team do everything to welcome the spectators in an organised, warm and friendly way.
Of course we do not always play at home in Morzine, but during the winter season we organize exhibition matches every Wednesday. These provide real entertainment for tourists passing through our valley during their holidays and I’d encourage you to join us one evening for a real, authentic holiday experience – one you’ll remember when you return home!
As for me, ice hockey takes up much of my life, but there is so much to do in Morzine! When I’m not at the club with the team, I play a lot of golf, enjoy mountain hikes and all winter long, as soon as I have time, I go on a ski tour in our wonderful mountains.”
Join the Hockey Club Morzine-Avoriaz for a match during your holidays this winter – you won’t be disappointed! Tickets for home games are always available to book in advance at hockey-morzine.com. It’s also possible to buy tickets on the door at the Skoda Arena before each game (subject to availability). Championship matches are priced at €10 for adults, €6 for children aged over five years, younger children can join the action for free. Exhibition matches are priced at €9 for adults, €5 for children, again under fives go free. Season passes are also available if you’re here for the whole season!