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Hockey coach gains respect

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By Josh Reising - Posted on 30 September 2011

A new season is about to being for the CU'S Men's Club Hockey team. Following a tough season in 2010 after the release of the previous coach, a new approach to the team will be ushered in by recently promoted junior varsity head coach Shawn Sullivan.

Coach Sullivan's previous success as a head coach includes taking the team to the National Championship twice. He has a new challenge with getting the varsity team back on track after a tough season with the squad playing just above a .500 winning record and a early exit from the ACHA Regional Tournament.

Wins, losses... of course they matter to head coach Shawn Sullivan. But the one thing he is worried about gaining that doesn't show up on stat sheets is respect.

When asked if winning alone brings respect, this is what the head coach had to say:
"It’s not something that you need to focus on…wins and losses…because if you build a good team and moral and you build respect between players, coaches, the organization and the university. People will get behind you and the stands will start to fill up and you will start to win games, it will go hand in hand."

Building a level of respect with the University and their competition is important to Sullivan. He also knows how important it is to build respect in the community and fan base.

"More than anything else than to have your fans respect the program, you want to treat your fans right. We line up at center ice and give the fans a stick salute to tell the fans thanks for coming. We need to build a better relationship with our fans because there is a lot of empty seats," said Sullivan.

Having been a former captain and player who won the 2005 National Championship, it may be hard for Sullivan to separate himself from player and coach. But the players around Sullivan have been spreading word about the reputation he has as a coach.

I caught up with CU Hockey player Alex Lencioni, who has played for the coach for two years, and asked how the coach gained his respect.

"He's played here before, he's won a National Championship. He knows hockey and when you're playing for a guy who has the resume that he had playing, it's easy to respect him as a coach. He knows the game and when he tells you to do something, you listen because it's the right thing to do," said Lencioni.

With the respect he has over the team, the coach is ready to take on the season...and get down to business.