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Posted 07.07.06

Chris Potter: Hockey, Golf Coach Busy on the Greens and Ice

Q: Chris, youíre the head menís ice hockey coach and the head golf coach. How do you manage doing both?

A: I have a strong passion for both sports and I enjoy coaching both teams. It does get a little crazy, but being organized helps. Also, I have great support for both programs. Lastly, I am very fortunate to coach great student-athletes. They are very motivated and they know what it takes to balance their academics with athletics, which is not always easy.

Q: Who are your assistant coaches?

A: Jim Langlois and Matt Plante are assistant coaches in hockey. Jeff Gilarde is my assistant for golf. He has a great passion for the game and loves working with the players. Matt has been with me for two years and has been a tremendous asset for the program. We have been heavily recruiting for the past two years and he has done a great job. Jim has been with Wesleyan Hockey for more than 20 years and has a lot of experience in coaching. Having good people working with you is extremely important.

Q: How long have you coached at Wesleyan?

A: I have coached the hockey team for three years and the golf team for two and a half years.

Q: Do you consider ice hockey and golf at all similar?

A: I would have to say yes and no. I think the obvious reason for it not being the same is hockey is more of a team sport than golf. Golf you are out there on your own and you have to deal with ups and downs on your own. Golf can really test you mentally. Hockey from a coaching perspective is more difficult. We practice four days a week, focusing on how to get the team to work together to achieve our goal: winning. The team relies on individuals and the individuals rely on the team. I think where they may overlap is dealing with people on an individual basis. Coaching golf I tend to rely on coaching the individual and that can carry over to hockey. Not everyone is motivated the same way. Coaching golf has helped my coaching ability with hockey.

Q: How old were you when you began playing sports?

A: I started playing hockey when I was 4. I also played baseball growing up.

Q: At the University of Connecticut, you were a four-year ice hockey letterman, an All-American as a senior and a two-time all-NECAC and all-New England selection. When did you decide that you wanted to be a coach and where did you first coach?

A: At first, I always wanted to play. I was playing in Roanoke, Virginia after college and I really started to understand the game and learn more about coaching. I played for Frank Anzalone and he had a strong passion for the game and coaching. He was extremely detailed and always prepared. I finished my third year and received a call from my college coach Bruce Marshall. They started a graduate assistant program and asked me if I was interested. It was a great opportunity to get into coaching and further my education.

Q: What did you major in at UConn?

A: I graduated with an economics degree and earned my masterís in education.

Q: What classes do you, or have you taught, as an adjunct associate professor of physical education?

A: I teach a golf class, intro to skating and a fitness class.

Q: In 1997, you got involved with the USA Hockey-Team New England as an instructor, assistant coach, and later as a head coach. Are you still involved with this team?

A: I was fortunate to get involved with Team New England when I coached at UConn. Jim Tortorella at Colby College was the program director. I am still involved today and have also coached at the national festival for the 17 age group. New England is one of many districts in USA hockey. Every summer, New England runs a 13,14,15, and 16 camp in Burlington, Vermont. In conjunction with those camps we select players to participate in the national camps held in St. Cloud, Minnesota and Rochester, New York. For the past six years I have coached at the 17 festival, which this year is July 7-14. It is a great opportunity to see the best 17ís in the country and learn more about the game. Dallas Bossort, the NESCAC Rookie of the Year, played for Team Dakota at the 17 festival.

Q: Do you follow the National Hockey League?

A: I do follow the NHL and I am very pleased with the rule changes and the leagues focus on improving the game. I am a Bruins fan but disappointed with the trade of Joe Thorton. I always enjoy watching the Red Wings play.

Q: What months does the hockey season span? Golf season?

A: Golf has two seasons. We have a fall schedule and a spring schedule. The golf team will begin practice in September. We get right into it. The NESCACís are Sept. 9-10. Itís like playing for the championship the first week of practice. We finish the fall season in October and hockey picks up Nov. 1. Hockey feels like two seasons because we have six to seven games before exam break and Christmas break. The players are off the ice for about two weeks. They return the first week of January and we play every weekend into the first weekend in March. After the playoffs and depending how far we go it usually ends middle of March right before Spring Break.

Q: Where does the golf team practice and play?

A: We have a great relationship with Lyman Orchards in Middlefield. They have two 18-hole courses and a great practice facility.

Q: In your opinion, what makes an ideal student-athlete? Would you like to mention any individuals who will be key players on the teams next year?

A: I think we have a lot of the ideal student-athletes here at Wesleyan. You have to be self-motivated and utilize good management skills to be able to balance both. We have a good core of players coming back next year and the addition of some new faces. Will Bennett has been the teamís captain for two years and he will be joined by Ryan Hendrickson. Last season our goaltending emerged. Freshman Mike Palladino did a tremendous job in the first half and when Dave Scardella returned he stepped up and helped our team into the playoffs, which earned him NESCAC 2nd Team. I was also very pleased with our D-core last year the sophomores took another step and the freshman class really adjusted well. Dallas Bossort was recognized as the NESCAC Rookie of the Year.

Q: Do you continue to play hockey and golf aside from coaching the sports?

A: I do more golf than hockey, but I do occasionally skate. There is a charity league in Rhode Island I get to every now and then.

Q: Do you have any free time?

A: My wife, Lisa, and I have 15 nieces and nephews, so between spending time with them and hockey and golf, I am always busy.

Q: What are your thoughts on working in Wesleyanís Athletic Department?

A: I have really enjoyed working here at Wesleyan. Duke Snyder built a tremendous hockey program and impressed a lot of people and they continue to give back. I have been amazed at the support. I look forward to adding to these two programs and continue to improve them everyday.
 
By Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection editor