Photo Credit: Justin Berl-RMU Athletics
“Excited, grateful,it’s almost difficult to put into words the emotional rollercoaster this has been for everyone who has been involved with this since May 26.”
Head Coach of Robert Morris Hockey Derek Schooley gave his thoughts above on the trip to get Robert Morris Hockey to where it is now, saved from banishment, and where it is going moving forward as well.
Heading into the meeting with his players Schooley gave his thoughts on how they felt with all the news “they were excited that the program was back but everybody was asking questions on how that would affect them.” He expects to work to build a new program, 18 years after he built the Colonials from the ground up the first time, he gets the same honor to lead the Colonials back to the national stage once more.
Schooley has reached out to remaining players, and will work to get those that want to stay a chance to do so, but more importantly he is working with each player still enrolled at Robert Morris to find the best path for them. As Schooley said of the opportunity to move forward “I’m looking forward to restarting our program.”
On the process of what comes next to build the program Schooley was straight forward. He said “Right now we are taking it one day at a time … now we are starting to take it one day at a time.” Campus visits and planning next steps are a big part of where the team is right now.
“I don’t think anybody was anticipating two years off…We’re going to look at all options to put these team back together as quick as possible.” Schooley is moving fast to get things figured out, with conference affiliation for both teams being the first priority, with the CHA and Atlantic Hockey getting pitches from their former and hopefully future legacy member of both conferences.
As Schooley said “We’ve got to figure out the questions with Atlantic Hockey and CHA.” Before moving ahead with coaching searches for the women’s job. “I’m sure there will be questions that they want answered.” Schooley expects this as part of any presentation to get back in the league in regular order. He was upbeat and ready for them to move forward saying. “All of the talks with Atlantic Hockey and CHA have been positive. I just really believe that we are in a good location and a good spot. The league has been really positive since our announcement of coming back. I’m focused on getting Robert Morris back to where we’ve been.”
On the extra year leading to the Colonials coming back starting in the 23-24 campaign he said, “ I think it was just to make sure that all the ducks were in a line for both teams moving forward. It comes down to giving us as much possible time to recruit.”
On the process he talked of his positive relationship with Alaska Anchorage Head Coach Matt Shasby who is rebuilding the Seawolves to start back up next season as an independent. Shasby has four signees, a dedicated board supporting him, and an NHL team in the Seattle Kraken helping grow the visibility of the Seawolves. As Schooley said “I’ve had a couple of talks with Matt Shasby and we’ve exchanged texts, our conversations have been positive, we’ve joked that we should write a book together and that the funds could fund our programs and some other ones, we’re very appreciative of the support of college hockey and all its coaches.”
On starting over “ we’re starting over but it’s a different landscape. The biggest change is in recruiting, I think that this is a completely different landscape of where it is now to where it was. We’ve got to come up with a plan and execute it to get where we want to be. There’s so much to do and there’s a long time to do it but we’ve got to get things moving pretty quickly.” Getting in the leagues then getting a women’s coach are the next two steps for the program, in that order. From there building the programs player by player with solid people and good humans amongst all selections is the next thing.
“Our campaign was hockey is the goal and we’ve just scored.” Schooley ended things succinctly with the result of the campaign to bring the teams back
The first of many goals and boxes checked for the Colonials. Now the goal is for these teams to get back to the level they were at and to points far beyond it. Both programs have produced great alums and pros in all walks of life. Now they have the chance to begin that work again anew, in the rapidly changing landscape of college hockey.
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