Q&A With Women's Hockey Coach Matt Shott
As Manager of Amateur Hockey for the Arizona Coyotes, Assistant Coach for the Arizona Lady Coyotes and now the new Assistant Coach for the ASU Women's Sun Devil Hockey Team , it seemed that this Q&A would have been conducted in one of the ice rinks that Coach Matt Shott calls home. So, where did I actually catch him?
A self-proclaimed Chipotle junkie, it's now evident that ice rinks aren't his only home away from home. So, with tacos in hand we sat down to discuss mexican food, and the future of girls hockey in Arizona.
PG: Chipotle? Why Chipotle?
MS: It's easy! It's decent food that tastes good. It's a no brainer. Plus, I know everyone here now.
PG: It seems you know a lot of people in the hockey community as well. What started your journey?
MS: I was born and raised in Arizona but have always been around hockey. I began skating at the age of 5 or 6 but had to get over my fear that the ice would break and I would fall through! My dad helped me figure it out and I got over it. Even though I spent a lot of time playing inline hockey, I held quite a few jobs around the valley at Oceanside Ice Arena and the Ice Den in Scottsdale, doing scorekeeping and driving the zamboni. In fact I knew how to drive a zamboni before I learned how to drive a car, even though I don't think I was supposed to. I went to NAU for my freshman year but came back home and worked for the Roadrunners before going to journalism school in Toronto. It was there that I worked for the Hamilton Bulldogs and got to fit Max Domi (of the Arizona Coyotes) for gear when he was just a peewee. It's funny because when I mentioned that to him he actually remembered the shop I worked at, but, obviously didn't remember me. After 2 1/2 years I came back to Arizona and ran the adult hockey program at the Ice Den while interning with the then Phoenix Coyotes street team. A full time position was offered to me but it was the beginning of the lock out so I continued to work at the Ice Den. I had the opportunity to run the locker room for the Coyotes players that stayed in town and as a result I built some great relationships. I've been with the Coyotes now for 3 years and it's been a dream.
PG: How did you get involved with the AZ Lady Coyotes and girls hockey in general?
MS: While I was at the Ice Den I ran off ice for teams, including the SheWolves. I talked to Mindy French about helping out with the coaching but they already had a full coaching staff. Sarah Dennee, the president of the AZ Lady Coyotes and I got to know each other when I contacted her about putting up a Lady Coyotes jersey in the arena. I interviewed with Sarah for a coaching position, came on as an assistant, and it's been a great experience.
PG: What makes you so passionate about girls hockey?
MS: Girls play for the pure love of the game. Not that boys don't but I find that girls enjoy it more for the camaraderie on and off the ice and the fun of it, not for money, fame or getting to the NHL. Working with the girls here is also a challenge. In Arizona there are 13 boys to 1 girl. That's a team of boys for every girl playing hockey. The numbers are totally lopsided and I want to see the girls game grow.
PG: While girls aren't shooting for the NHL, there is the NWHL now. How does that affect the growth of the sport for girls?
MS: The NWHL is hope. Just like the Arizona face of girls hockey, and Olympian, Lyndsey Fry, the NWHL is putting a focus on girls and women in the sport. We (the Coyotes) have plans to run bigger and better girls hockey weekends that include viewing parties for the NWHL and even Division 1 games. It's about showing the girls where they can go, not just where they are now. The Small Frys program that we will be implementing is going to be a huge part of that with girls only clinics and viewing parties throughout the season. Even our current Little Howlers program, where both boys and girls 4-8 can try hockey for free, is improving. Participants will be able to keep the equipment once they finish the 4 week session. Our hope is that they will continue playing hockey if we start them out with the equipment.
PG: September will mark the inaugural season for the ASU Women's Sun Devil Hockey Team. What excites you most about being a part of this?
MS: Creating another avenue for girls to continue in sports and growing the game at another level. Girls in Arizona won't have to stop playing once they hit college and since it is a club team that means academics will come first.
PG: Where do you see girls and women's hockey in 5, 10, 20 years, both locally and globally?
MS: There is nowhere to go but up. ASU is the seed for other western state schools to branch out and add hockey to their sports programs. And leagues like the NWHL and the CWHL have a real chance to succeed if the NHL gets behind them which a lot of those pro teams are. It will continue to be an exciting time for women and girls in hockey.
PG: One last question of a random nature...why do hockey players' nicknames always end in a "Y"?
MS: (laughs) It's easy. Hockey players are not always the smartest or the most creative people on the planet. It's just an easy out.
PG: What if your name ends in a "Y" already?
MS: Then you just take it out and shorten the name.
You learn something new every day...