Seasoned and experienced, Head Coach Chris Potter has led the men’s hockey team to seven NESCAC tournaments during his time here, and his sights are set on another successful season with a solid squad. In anticipation of the season’s start in mid-November, Potter answered a few questions for The Argus via email.
The Argus: How would you describe your 11 years coaching Wesleyan hockey?
Chris Potter: I have really enjoyed my time at Wesleyan. There have been a lot of great student-athletes who have played hockey here at Wesleyan and I feel lucky to continue where Coach Spurrier and Coach Snyder left off. I think like any job you learn what works and what type of players fit my style. I continue to learn and grow with the program.
A: You’ve led Wes Hockey to the NESCAC’s, from the first ’CAC tournament home game to the Cardinals’ first semifinals appearance in 2011. What has gone into your team’s success?
CP: We have had some positive steps in the program and you can’t get to point B without stopping at point A. In my first years we had a very important group who worked extremely hard to be more relevant in the league. Will Bennett [’07] was a captain of that team and his class and along with a good freshman class was instrumental in gaining home ice and taking a huge step for the program. That group really allowed us to recruit a little better and create more depth, which is what you need to sustain success. That brought us to tackling another phase which is being more consistent night in and night out. We had a big class a few years ago with Adam Kaiser [’13], Chris MacDonald [’13], John Guay [’13], Nick Craven [’13], and Glenn Stowell [’13] (just to name a few). These guys really wanted to take that next step and led us to a [NESCAC] final four. The new challenge is trying to be consistent and sustain being a top team in the league (more home ice and more trips to the final four and the ultimate goal of a [NESCAC] championship).
A: What are the best and worst parts of coaching? Do you have a “process” or strategy to coaching?
CP: I really enjoy working with the players and getting them to work together to achieve the team’s goals. Recruiting a player and seeing him grow as a player and person is rewarding. With the social networking we have these days you can really follow how your former players are doing and watch their lives grow. Some have been married and some have started families. It is fun to watch. I can’t really say there is one thing I don’t like about coaching[;] even the things that may be frustrating force you to re-think and try something new.
A: You have a lifelong history of hockey, from playing four years of award-winning hockey at your alma mater, UConn, to coaching at Brown and for USA Hockey—Team New England. What do you love about hockey and what draws you to it?
CP: I think first off it is a fun sport to play and has a great combination of speed[,] skill and grit. It was always gratifying for me to sacrifice my own agenda for the team which created a strong bond with your teammates that I still have today with the players I played with. I now have [three] boys playing hockey and can really see at their age the fun they have playing and the passion they are developing for the sport. These days I spend Saturday and Sundays at 7:00 [a.m.] teaching 6-7 year olds how to skate and stop.
A: How have you and the team been preparing for the upcoming season?
CP: From what I have seen from the players they worked hard this summer and physically they look great. I know they are excited about the challenge of being more consistent and reaching the next step[,] a [NESCAC] championship. I think they also know to Go Further you need to Go Harder. They have been fortunate [to] get on the ice a little more this Fall so I hope that will help them.
A: What are your hopes for this year’s squad?
CP: We did lose a few key guys off last year’s team, and anytime you lose [one] guy your team dynamic is different. We had the same leadership over the past few years so that will be new. I am looking forward to watching this group play. There is some very good talent on this team. I expect us to play fast and control the pace. This is a great league all the way through and if you are to have success and reach your goals[,] you have to be able to get off the bus and win on the road.
A: As an adjunct associate professor here at Wes, what is your favorite class to teach?
CP: Teaching PE class is part of the job. I really enjoy the Golf class. I see students who have never picked up a club and watch them work to develop a swing. It’s a lot of fun.