These days there is a lot of discussion of the phrase "student athlete."
At some schools, the term reads the other way around. For the new head
coach/general manager of the Indiana Ice, it's more about how an athlete can
balance school and sport.
Kyle Wallack spent the last five
years as assistant coach and top recruiter for the Yale University hockey team,
a school with a history of academic excellence and motivated athletes.
"Yale is a prestigious academic university that provides
a great education and great hockey," Wallack said.
"For a lot of these guys their main focus is hockey, spending every day
working on different skills to get better as a player."
Wallack said even at Yale, student
athletes still find equal time for academics and sports, assuming they know the
"To me, it's all about time management. The players need to develop a
great structure when it comes to managing their lives both on and away from the
rink. If they learn to manage their time while at this level it will help
prepare them for the future levels in hockey as well as the rest of their
Indiana Ice CEO Paul Skjodt was
impressed with Wallack's resume, in particular his
"Kyle embodies everything the Indiana Ice stands for
here in Indianapolis," Skjodt said."His character, professionalism
and experience will fit right in with our organization and team goals. The most
impressive part of his stay at Yale was his ability to not only recruit, but to
build a team of student athletes that require the highest standards of
education to gain entry and still win at college level. That model follows the
same standards we have here at Cathedral High School and the Indiana Ice."
Having spent time in Indianapolis as a recruiter, Wallack is familiar with the city and its hockey fan base.
"This is obviously a non-traditional hockey market
where the sport may not be a priority," Wallack
says. "But I believe that the sport is going to continue to grow here,
with more and more kids getting involved in the youth hockey programs.
"Indianapolis is a great city it has a big time feel to
it. Moving here (from the East Coast) was not as much of a cultural shock as
some people might think. The people here have been great, reaching out to us
and making us feel welcome."
Wallack's first test as the Ice
head coach came in late September, at the USHL's 2011
annual preseason "Fall Classic" in Sioux City, IA. The Ice won all
three of their games that weekend. Needless to say, Wallack
was pleased with the team's first night on the ice together.
"The Fall Classic was a great weekend," Wallack says. "There's nothing like opening night,
whether it's at home or on the road. I told the guys to go out there and play,
to soak up the electrified atmosphere and enjoy the moment."
Wallack hopes that the Indiana Ice
fans will greet the 2011-2012 squad with as much energy and enthusiasm as they encountered
at their first three away games.
"We are going to try to play the kind of hockey that
will help the team get as many people in the stands this season and it starts
with our home opener against Team USA Saturday night."
The Ice play their first home game Saturday, Oct. 15, 7 p.m. at the Pepsi Coliseum.