Few people I know can tell you about the “Ice Palace” at York University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. This is where the root of my coaching journey took hold. It was an ice box and it was the home of the York University Yoemen (now the Lions). My father was an Assistant Coach and I spent a lot of time in the dressing room, press box, and the coach’s office. I would listen to the coaches solve problems and develop strategy. I could feel the competitive fire and passion filling the small office. Peering around the corner, I would listen to Head Coach Graham Wise address the team between periods followed by fist bumps with the players. Looking back, I can clearly see that’s how I got started.
I have always loved to be involved in my community, in particular through sport. In grade 8 I coached the Grade 6 volleyball team. Here I found confidence and joy in coaching.
In high school, I volunteered to coach for the girls hockey team, helping Dave McNamara “Mr. Mac”. Mac is a long-time NHL and OHL scout. He developed a tremendous girls hockey program and I felt proud to contribute to a successful team.
After high school, I gave back by helping coach a local high school rugby team. I was given incredible autonomy and developed practice plans and offensive plays. In this environment I felt a great deal of connectedness to the players and that gave me a glimpse into the power of positive relationships.
After completing my collegiate and (very brief) professional hockey career I embarked on graduate school at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY where I achieved a Master of Science in Physical Education. By this time I decided I was going to be a coach and was willing to do whatever it took.
I volunteered for the NCAA Division 1 hockey team at Canisius and my perspective was that I would work and act like I was a full-time coach. It didn’t matter I wasn’t getting paid. My girlfriend (future wife) and I moved into a 600 square foot apartment in Tonawanda, NY and she paid the rent. We both sacrificed but she took a big leap of faith in me. I also took a gamble and bet on myself.
This experience introduced me to the professional side of coaching. How to do things in a certain way and how to conduct yourself. I got involved in all aspects of the program and I will forever cherish the experience and the relationships I made while in Buffalo.
Following graduation, we moved to Fredonia, NY, a small town on Lake Erie, southwest of Buffalo, NY where I accepted the position of Assistant Hockey Coach at Fredonia State. Coach Jeff Meredith was a perfect mentor and still is today. From Coach Meredith I learned the art of coaching which was a terrific blend with my previous experience at Canisius. At Fredonia, I had skin in the game. I was responsible for recruiting, the power play, team systems and coaching the defense. In my three years we had rapid success; 3 All-Americans, Top 10 Power Play, and a SUNYAC Championship game.
In Fredonia, I was fortunate to work myself into the position of Assistant Professor in the Sport Management Department, teaching Leadership & Management, Facility Management, Economics in Sport, Technology in Sport, and Sport Law. This was an incredible period of growth for me. I was afforded the chance to craft my presentation style and built confidence on a professional level.
When I accepted the Head Coach position at Curry College I became the youngest Head Hockey Coach in the NCAA in 2012/13 having just turned 29 years old. I had a clear set of principles and now I had the chance to go after it for myself.
The first few years are a blur. I had many successes, made lots of mistakes, and learned a ton. Around my fourth or fifth year is when I started to become very clear on who I am as a Head Coach and how I believe our teams at Curry should play. I’m constantly trying to improve and the longer I coach the more I am certain the path to success is through people; not systems or tactics or technology. Those are important and you need to be good at them but the key to making a difference is your ability to connect with people and create an optimal individual experience inside the team environment. It’s about creating a culture that puts the players first.
KGB – Keep Getting Better
KGB drives the Curry College hockey program and it drives me to be the best coach I can be. It’s a growth mindset and a passionate pursuit of knowledge and improvement.
I’ve been coaching my whole life and I haven’t worked a day in my life.
Every coaching opportunity was my dream job…
- Head Coach Men’s Hockey – Curry College, NCAA D3
- Assistant Coach Men’s Hockey – Fredonia State, NCAA D3
- Assistant Coach Men’s Hockey – Team Western, Empire State Games
- Assistant Coach Men’s Hockey – Canisius College, NCAA D 1
- Assistant Coach Rugby – Holy Trinity Secondary School
- Assistant Coach Girls Hockey – St. Ignatius of Loyola Secondary School
- Co-Coach Grade 6 Volleyball – Heritage Glen Public School
- Founder and Director – Next Step Hockey and the Go Kart Sports Camp.
- 20 years experience at various hockey schools, clinics, camps.
Players First Environment
Connection, communication, and trust comes first.
Empowering people to be responsible of their development.
Believe in the power of growth and continual improvement.