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Gadowsky at Penn State: Search for Men's Hockey Coach Took Team Effort

by on April 27, 2011 6:00 AM

Talk about your whirlwind weeks. The search for the men's varsity ice-hockey head coach was another amazing process that brought together many moving parts in a short time. The best part is we got our guy!

We got a great fit with former Princeton coach Guy Gadowsky. He is all that we had hoped to find in a coach to take the Icer tradition and family atmosphere and transition it to the revived varsity program, which has been dormant since 1946. He brings so much passion and energy to the program. He's personable, committed to academic and athletic excellence and will be involved in helping to grow interest in hockey at Penn State and  throughout the commonwealth.

Oh, yeah, he's a super coach, recruiter, proven builder, and winner on the ice, as well. I think Penn Staters are going to absolutely love him!

This past week gave me a whole new level of appreciation for the complexities of Director of Athletics Tim Curley's daily existence and how much pressure he is under. A lot of people have tough jobs that require many levels of skills and abilities, but not many have to withstand the public scrutiny that comes with the athletics-director position. He handled it with grace, and along with Associate Athletic Director Mark Sherburne and me, spent Easter weekend in his office getting this deal done.

Tim is in the middle of a number of searches for other positions and, of course, the daily challenges that come with the job, as well. Can't imagine how he keeps it together and always seems to smile. His wife, Melinda, has the "patience of Job" and is probably tired of having dinner with the Battistas every night! Tim, Melinda and Mark Sherburne helped make a very tough week and a tough decision a more satisfying journey. I owe them, Wendell Courtney and Erikka Runkle my thanks for giving up pieces of their holiday weekend to "seal the deal."

I also need to recognize the folks behind the scenes who helped us land such a dynamic, passionate and visionary coach in Guy Gadowsky. Our selection committee of Linda Caldwell (faculty athletic representative), Matt Stolberg (associate athletic director for compliance), Mark Sherburne (associate athletic director for administration), Mark Pavlik (men's volleyball head coach), Mark Bodenschatz (associate athletic director for facilities and operations), Rod Kirsch (senior vice president for development and alumni relations), Al Horvath (senior vice president for business and finance), Tim Curley, and university President Graham Spanier are all to be commended for a job well done!

Others who were also instrumental behind the scenes include Nancy Doyle, Ben Bouma, RJ Gimbl, Mike Milliron, Rick Kaluza, Kurt Behers, Jay Paterno, Tom Bradley, Chris Whittemore, Heather Wilson, Sandy Watson, Billie Willits, Scott Balboni, Josh Hand, Marci Palmer, Jim Purdum and his outstanding staff at Hospitality Services, Jennifer Hoy, Jeff Nelson, Jim Nachtman, Neil Kelly, Stephanie Petulla, Greg Myford, and Tony Mancuso. There are probably some folks I missed, but suffice it to say the Penn State athletics family came through in a big way for this process and I am grateful to everyone who helped!

A special thanks to our lead donor Terry Pegula and his senior advisor Cliff Benson and a whole host of NHL general managers, USA Hockey staff and coaches, Paul Kelly of College Hockey Inc., and all the athletics directors and league commissioners who helped us narrow our list and guide us through this process. In the end we had three fantastic finalists, all of whom brought impeccable credentials to the table and possessed the values and integrity we come to expect at Penn State. All three were worthy candidates not only because of their skills as coaches, but also because they are truly people of character and a credit to the profession.

Alas, no time to relax. Just like after winning a championship, we are back at it with Big Ten hockey conference meetings, women's conference meetings, and our women's coaching search.

Looks like poor Melinda Curley will be having a few more dinners with the Battistas, after all!

Joe Battista has been an integral part of the Penn State and State College communities since 1978. He is best known for his effort to bring varsity ice hockey to Happy Valley and in the building of Pegula Ice Arena. “JoeBa” is the owner of PRAGMATIC Passion, LLC consulting, a professional speaker, success coach, and the vice president of the National Athletic and Professional Success Academy (NAPSA). He is the author of a new book, “The Power of Pragmatic Passion.” Joe lives in State College with his wife Heidi (PSU ’81 & ’83), daughter Brianna (PSU ’15), and son’s Jon (PSU ’16), and Ryan (State High Class of 2019).
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