SDSU club hockey thriving under young gun coach

by Meghan Lanigan, Contributor

The men’s hockey club at San Diego State began its 2015-16 season in much the same way as it has the last four years: with a new coach.

Ted Powers, the newest head coach at SDSU, planned this past summer on coming to the school to be the assistant coach working in a volunteer position.

“I was supposed to take over in two to three years,” Powers said.

Except that didn’t happen.

The previous head coach, Ryan Weston, had to leave unexpectedly when Weston’s fiancé was relocated to Orange County for a job three weeks before the hockey season started.

Weston knew Powers personally because he’s engaged to Powers’ sister’s best friend. It sounds confusing, except these two men had one thing in common.

“We both have similar views on hockey,” Powers said. “His weaknesses were my strengths and my weaknesses were his strengths.”

Even though Powers wasn’t supposed to be the head coach this season, the Aztecs having a winning record and sit in 16th place in the West division of the American Collegiate Hockey Association for Division II.

The other interesting factor about coach Powers? His age.

He just turned 25 this June.

“My plan was to keep my age under wraps,” Powers said.

Coaching players only a few years younger than him has its advantages and disadvantages.

“I was afraid I wouldn’t get as much respect being 25,” Powers said.

One advantage is he just graduated from University of Arizona three years ago, so he knows what his players are going through trying to balance school, work and hockey.

“It’s been a hard balancing act maintaining respect and being a peer,” Powers said.

Powers recalled giving college advice to his players a few weeks ago and remembered receiving the same advice his parents gave him.

“I’m turning into my mom,” Powers said.

The other advantage about being a young coach is he speaks the language of his players.

“It has been kind of nice,” Powers said. “We can make the same jokes.”

Forward Anthony Mata said what Powers brings to the team is different, but it works.

“He talks about routine and, you know, I’ve been learning even since last year that routines are important,” Mata said.

Powers grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where hockey was not a prevalent sport.

When Powers was about 10, he went to one of his best friend’s roller hockey games and told his dad he wanted to play sports, namely baseball and hockey.

Powers said his dad came home a couple days after that and said he was signed up for hockey.

He started the following week, just like that.

Powers played hockey through college and was also a founding member of the youth hockey league, Wildcat Hockey Youth Association.

Hockey is a club sport at SDSU, which means it doesn’t fall in with the 19 NCAA sports under SDSU’s athletics department. This can cause a problem.

Forward Brandon Vara had to miss the games this past weekend in Arizona because there was a test he couldn’t get out of.

“If he was on the football team, that wouldn’t be a problem,” Powers said.

Even though there’s still another semester left of hockey, Powers is looking forward to next season.

“I feel like I’ll know the lay of the land,” Powers said. “We can really do some damage.”

The one common theme the players and Powers talk about consistently is the team’s chemistry this season.

“I love that we’re all in this together and there’s not one person who thinks they’re better than any other,” Mata said.

Powers said he would love to say their record this season is because of his coaching ability, but he said he knows that’s not true.

“I’m running on the coattails of some great kids,” he said.