Vancouver Giants play-by-play broadcaster Dan O’Connor (left) and former Surrey Eagles head coach Mark Holick (right) have started a new sports podcast, The Voice & The Coach. The pair are longtime friends and former colleagues with the Prince George Cougars. (Nick Greenizan photo)

Vancouver Giants play-by-play broadcaster Dan O’Connor (left) and former Surrey Eagles head coach Mark Holick (right) have started a new sports podcast, The Voice & The Coach. The pair are longtime friends and former colleagues with the Prince George Cougars. (Nick Greenizan photo)

New B.C.-based podcast a ‘creative outlet’ for longtime junior-hockey broadcaster, coach

South Surrey residents Dan O’Connor and Mark Holick team up for The Voice & the Coach

Last summer, Dan O’Connor and Mark Holick were having a beer together when the subject of podcasts came up.

Holick – a longtime hockey coach and former bench boss of the Surrey Eagles – suggested that one day the two South Surrey residents and longtime friends should start one. At the time, it was nothing more than a passing thought – a way that the pair could one day share years of entertaining hockey stories with a wider audience.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and suddenly Holick, now a coach with Abbotsford’s Yale Hockey Academy, and O’Connor, just finished his third season behind the mic as the play-by-play broadcaster with the Western Hockey League’s Vancouver Giants, found themselves at home with a lot of extra time on their hands.

Suddenly, The Voice & the Coach was born.

“COVID hit, and that’s when I decided this podcast was going to happen, and I remembered our conversation (from the year before), so I called Mark and asked him, is this something we want to do?” O’Connor explained.

“We agreed right away, very enthusiastically, ‘OK, let’s do this.’ And here we are a month later, and we’ve recorded eight episodes.’”

• READ ALSO: Former Surrey Eagles reflect on 20-year anniversary of Royal Bank Cup title

• READ ALSO: Meet the man behind the Vancouver Giants mike

O’Connor said the aim of the show is to talk about sports and life, while also giving listeners a “peek behind the curtain,” at what life is like working in hockey. The first episode’s guest was longtime NHLer Scott Gomez, whom Holick coached in Surrey. Other guests on the show have included longtime coach and player Rick Lanz – also a former Eagles’ coach – TSN broadcaster Rod Pederson and Dan Shulman, a longtime Toronto Blue Jays broadcaster who is one of the top baseball play-by-play talents in the business.

“Dan Shulman has been a broadcasting hero of mine ever since I started watching baseball at eight or nine years old,” O’Connor said.

“So sitting in this very spot, connecting with Dan Shulman, was definitely one of those ‘wow’ moments for me.”

While O’Connor credits his co-host for planting the podcast seeds at that 2019 meeting, Holick said he’d still be thinking about it, if not for O’Connor’s enthusiasm and drive.

“I’m the kind of guy where I’ll like an idea, and then I’ll think about it, and I’ll get to it (eventually) – I’m more of a planner. But all of a sudden, Dan’s at my doorstep with the microphone and the gear, so I was like, ‘I guess we’re doing this.’ So I had no choice,’ he laughed.

The pair have an easy rapport – both on the podcast and in person – that comes from years of friendship as well as two-and-a-half years of working together with the WHL’s Prince George Cougars, where Holick was the head coach and O’Connor was the play-by-play broadcaster, among other responsibilities.

“We spent a lot of time together, when you travel as much as the Cougars did – the shortest road trip is six hours, and after that it’s 10, 12, sometimes 15 (hours),” said Holick, who was an assistant coach with the Surrey Eagles in 1996-97 before spending the next three seasons as head coach.

“And Dan was almost part of our inner circle on the coaching staff, because he was also in charge of our hotels and meals on the road, so we spoke frequently, co-ordinating itineraries, that sort of thing.”

Eventually, Holick moved on to other opportunities as far afield as Italy, before returning to the Lower Mainland, while O’Connor stayed in Prince George a little longer before joining the Giants organization.

The podcast is a way for the two to stay connected, while also giving them the opportunity to talk shop with others from across the sports landscape.

“I’d like to think it’s been a really cool, creative outlet for each of us,” O’Connor said.

Holick credits O’Connor for doing all the behind-the-scenes work to get each week’s recording polished and published to the internet – The Voice & the Coach is available on iTunes, Spotify and other podcast players – insisting that, “I just show up and tell a few stories.”

However, over the course of the last month, O’Connor has been impressed with his friend’s seamless adjustment from someone usually tasked with being asked questions, to someone doing the asking.

“Mark’s a natural,” O’Connor said.

“I always knew that – I’ve interviewed him hundreds of times (in Prince George)… But for Mark, this is out of his comfort zone. So it’s been cool for me, not just as a co-host but as a friend, to see him doing such a good job.

“He has a relatability to a coach or an athlete that I do not have. Someone like Scott Gomez, if he was to come on the Dan O’Connor Podcast, there’s no way he’s going to open up to the degree that he did on our show, because Mark is here and because of the trust they have together.

“It’s been a good balancing act.”

Though the podcast started under COVID-19 restrictions, both hosts are confident they’ll still find time to record each week once life returns to some semblance of normalcy and schedules get busier.

As the project moves forward, O’Connor acknowledged that he’ll draw a certain degree of satisfaction from knowing that they will have one day recorded a treasure trove of great interviews that will live for as long as episodes exist online.

“I’d like to get to a point – maybe episode 100 – where you you can look back and say, ‘Wow, look at all these stories we were able to tell.’”



sports@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

hockeyVancouver GiantsWHL

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An Interior Health nurse administers Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. Photo: Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News
Interior Health opens up vaccine eligibility in Columbia Valley to 18 years or older

Only local residents can register and book appointments as COVID-19 case counts spike in the region

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

The Rec 9 and driving range are open at Bootleg Gap in Kimberley. Full course opens April 30.
Two Kimberley golf courses open for season

Purcell and Bootleg Gap are partially open today, Trickle Creek May 7

Kimberley is developing a policy on short term rentals. Air BnB screenshot.
Kimberley is developing a policy on short term rentals

The City of Kimberley is continuing the process of adopting a strategy… Continue reading

Interior Health nurses administer Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
69 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The total number of cases in the region is now at 9,840 since the pandemic began

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

Local carpenter Tyler Bohn embarked on a quest to create the East Sooke Treehouse, after seeing people build similar structures on a Discovery Channel show. (East Sooke Treehouse Facebook photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. carpenter builds fort inspired by TV’s ‘Treehouse Masters’

The whimsical structure features a wooden walking path, a loft, kitchen – and is now listed on Airbnb

Most Read