“He cares so much”, learn how RMU’s Mike Corbett developed his coaching philosophy from one of the game’s great coaches.

(Photo Credit: Justin Berl/RMU Athletics(

Mike Corbett is one of the most honest people we have ever interviewed in the game of college hockey. The former Alabama Huntsville Head Coach was up front about his record, and has no hard feelings towards anyone with how his time leading the program ended. He was Derek Schooley’s first choice for the assistant coach role when it opened, and the two worked together to make it a reality. Corbett had other options, but it was evident that the Robert Morris role made the most sense for him now, and it has paid dividends for the team because the Colonials are in first place in the Atlantic Hockey Conference, nationally ranked, and in position for an at large selection in the NCAA Tournament this spring.

Corbett shared with us a philosophy that guides how he operates, and one that is refreshing to hear on this and the rest of his interactions in life. He simply notes that “business is one thing, and friendship is another.” This philosophy has allowed Corbett to have a long career as a very successful assistant coach for the Air Force Academy, and got him back behind the bench with Robert Morris after leaving his Head Coach role with Alabama Huntsville.

That loyalty to players that Corbett has comes from a source many college hockey fans would know. Frank Serratore, the head coach at Air Force gave Corbett a chance to play for him when he was at Denver. As Corbett said, Frank took a chance on letting him play with the Pioneers as Corbett came to college as a 20 year old with a young son, and of that opportunity he said, “I could never repay him enough.”   

That was not at all the end of Corbett and Serratore’s time together, as a few years later, Corbett would end up working with Frank at the Air Force Academy for the next decade as an assistant. To this day, through the ups and downs of Corbett’s coaching career, and his life, he notes that Frank always has time to chat with him, and Corbett was effusive of the impact Frank has had on his life.

One of many things Frank did helped Corbett feel more confident as an assistant, and gave Mike a guide for his own choices later on as a coach. That is, Serratore let Corbett do a lot of things in the coaching world that assistants do not typically get the chance to do. In his time at the Air Force Academy, Frank has always been effusive of the honor of being the coach of Cadet-Athletes, and his leadership style empowers them, and all who work with him to have success. Corbett calls Serratore the “ultimate motivator”, and notes the value Frank’s honesty has had on him later on in any of his following roles. When Corbett needs advice, as he did when looking for his next role in the coaching world this summer he looked at two people of his vast network of friends and mentors for advice.

To sum all of the help Corbett has gotten up from Serratore in one quote is tough to do, but he came close by saying that, ” Frank is so great because he cares so much.” It is clear to us that Corbett cares a lot as well.

Back to his time at Robert Morris, Corbett is embracing his role as an assistant and fitting in with the Colonials quite well. He notes the success of a lot of the team, including Nick Prkusic, Randy Hernandez, and others as reasons for this team’s new residence as a nationally ranked side. On the bench for Robert Morris, Mike handles a lot of things, including running the penalty kill. Arguably the most important thing he does for this team during games is providing levity and a level head to it. That is, when the Colonials score, Corbett will be the one yelling something about playing the next shift hard and keeping the pressure up. When the Colonials are scored upon he is the one imploring his team to keep pushing for the next goal and so on.

Corbett focuses most of his time back on the ice, and loves working with Schooley and the staff at Robert Morris. This team is competing for a national at-large bid in the spring, along with having the pieces to be good for many years, as they only have three seniors, and some may come back due to the extra year of eligibility every student athlete is getting due to the pandemic.

Mike Corbett has learned a lot over his years as a coach, both leading and as an assistant, yet one thing is constant. He will forever have a spot in the wide world of hockey as long as he wants one, because, like his mentor Frank Serratore, Corbett cares so much about his players as whole people, and ones destined to get better both on and off the rink.

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“Doing the Right Thing Every Day”- RMU Head Coach Derek Schooley on the Success of the Colonials

(Photo Credit: Justin Berl-RMU Athletics)

Derek Schooley has been the only head coach for the Colonials of Robert Morris. He built the program so it could begin playing in the 2004-2005 season and has been their leader every single day. While you may not know some of the names of his team this year, they are playing on a pace that will open a lot of people’s eyes very quickly outside of Atlantic Hockey this season. Through 11 games, the Colonials are 8-3, with a stretch of nine games in 19 days awaiting them.

To deal with this, Schooley has had to do a few things. First, on October 1 he officially announced the hiring of former Alabama Huntsville Coach Mike Corbett. It was a natural fit for both of them, given the relationship they have had through Air Force Academy Coach Frank Serratore. Both men have coached under Serratore’s leadership and both carry a player first mentality they honed under his tutelage. Schooley left to build the Colonials from the ground up, and Corbett stepped in to fill that role.

As Schooley said on hiring Corbett, “As soon as I had an opening.. I reached out to him immediately.” Both men respect the experience each other has behind the bench, and Schooley was also quick to point out the decade of success as an assistant that Mike Corbett enjoyed at Air Force. When it comes to building a team and being around the right group of people, both are on the same page. In the always changing world of college hockey, to have someone that you have known for two decades work with you is a bit rare.

Back to this group, Schooley is leading a team with only three seniors but one that plays a very veteran style. The Colonials are one of the biggest teams in the country, and they use that size to their advantage, especially on the rare non conference trip. This team took top-10 Bowling Green into the third period up 1-0 and ended up barely losing 2-1 after a tough third period against one of the best teams in the country. The staff is happy with where this group is heading. The Colonials play a physical brand of hockey, but also have more than enough skill to make them a hard team to play against.

The captain of his group, Nick Prkusic, is respected by Schooley and the staff. Prkusic came in a natural goal scorer, and over his time with the Colonials has added some playmaking prowess to his game, along with always being a strong defender in his own end. Through his talent, he has over a point per game so far (nine assists and three goals in 11 games played).

Despite the maturity with which he plays the game, combined with his superb leadership skills, and his responsibility in his own end, Schooley has not gotten any calls or questions from the NHL about Prkusic, Given Schooley’s background and pedigree he knows future professionals in the game of hockey and to him, “Nick’s got the ability to play at the next level.”

On this team, and preparing them for the upcoming daunting schedule of 9 games in 19 days, the leadership group of the Colonials and staff have a plan. The season is divided into seven game segments. This segmented approach by Schooley allows his players to keep focused on the here and now. Given the pandemic we are living through, games are not always certain until players get on the ice.

In order to help this season be played, Atlantic Hockey, the Colonials’ Conference, has utilized a divisional alignment to cut down on travel. It leads to minimizing hotel stays and keeping pods of teams together to minimize scheduling calamities. Schooley has been nothing but thankful for the hard work Atlantic Hockey did to get teams back on the ice, and their diligence in dealing with postponements and trying their best to maintain competitive games.

In those games, Schooley has his players playing the way he wants them to. With their size and speed, they are beginning to find consistency in their lines, and the stellar play of rookie Noah West has given them three viable goaltenders that can step in on any given night.

All three goalies, West, Reid Cooper, and Dyllan Lubbesmeyer could see time as the next seven game segment for these Colonials after they finish this one takes place in 13 days. Due to cancellations and postponements, Robert Morris, now ranked 20th in the country, is effectively doing all they can to support their student-athletes playing a professional schedule in terms of games played.

Of how he works with his team looking to make it to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2014, one thing from Schooley’s style is very much in line with the approach he and his staff have taken to managing things during this pandemic.

As Schooley says, “it’s about constantly making sure you’re doing the right thing everyday.” If his team keeps winning seven game segments playing a professional-like schedule then his Colonials will be well equipped to compete with AIC for Atlantic Hockey’s Regular and Postseason titles.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape like unique untold stories across college hockey. Please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded  journalism that can truly be free for all at this link: paypal.me/Seamorepsorts

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Bring the Chargers to the Winter Classic: A few reasons why

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography)

Next year, the Minnesota Wild will host the 2021 Winter Classic at Target Field as part of a celebration of the game in Minnesota. As part of this celebration one would have to think given the history of Minnesota College Hockey, a Minnesota team would also get to play outdoors as part of this wonderful event. This event, to any program that could participate, would be the largest exposure in terms of viewers and reach that their school would get all year. Hopefully both Men and Women’s schools get a chance to play.

Now, as you see in the title, I would strongly ask the decision makers at large to consider an opponent for a Minnesota team to play for this outdoor game. The University of Alabama-Huntsville Chargers should be part of this experience. Head Coach Mike Corbett has built a program at the Division One Level largely on his own fundraising efforts. He not only coaches a team in a market that is a newer one for the game we all love, but he fundraisers for them. He runs so much of the Chargers program and they get so little exposure even among legacy media outlets that the Chargers have a story the national audience would love. A team on the brink of being cut being saved by Corbett and his fundraising, and one fighting daily to bring college hockey to the southeastern most locale in the country is a story made for a Netflix series, and the Winter Classic as well.

Why do I say this? Well Corbett talked to us after the Saturday finale where his team held tough against the Fighting Hawks in a second 5-2 loss, and mentioned exposure. His program barely makes television at all despite representing a school that churns out engineers for NASA, and other quality companies in the area. The amount of free media coverage the school and town would get could not be adequately measured.

Imagine for a minute, the amount of Huntsville fans that could be created from tuning in for a few minutes to watch this game. Now you may be saying why them? This program has to find out what to do in the 2021-2022 season and beyond as they are one of the programs not looked on with favor from the departing members of the WCHA. This team needs a chance to showcase its school, its town and its market on a national stage. Playing a Minnesota school on the national stage is one easy way to show the commitment of the NHL and all its partners to growing hockey nationwide.

Corbett tried to schedule one-off games against Penn State and UND in Nashville at the home of the Predators around the Hockey Hall of Fame Game next year, and was unable to find success in doing so.This matters here, because it shows his dedication towards finding his program more exposure, and the Winter Classic is a great place to meet that goal.

Therefore if the Chargers want to play a destination game, the Winter Classic could be an option if those in power would allow them to participate. To me, the Winter Classic should be a platform to grow the game for all, having a Women’s Hockey Tournament and having the Chargers play perhaps a WCHA game against say the Mavericks of Minnesota State-Mankato, or Bemidji State would be a good way to promote all who want to play the game.

If the Winter Classic folks wanted to, they could schedule multiple outdoor games at Target Field over two days or even on the first, given the right time for the ice to improve. This event would be a great way to promote college hockey to new fans across the country, and Americans love a story of underdogs working to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. To me, the Chargers are that team for this moment.

These are some thoughts after seeing the Chargers play, seeing how dedicated Corbett is to making his team better, and growing the game at large is arguably the best way to expand the amount of schools offering the game. His team would relish the opportunity, Huntsville would get national television coverage, and the game of hockey would reach people it likely never has before.

Donate: To help us cover more games and tell more stories not found elsewhere about all of college sports, especially under represented athletes everywhere across the college sports landscape, please click the below link and consider donating what you can. If you do, I will list you in every story about we write as a supporter of crowd-funded  journalism that can truly be free for all at this link: https://www.paypal.me/oliverfrancies your donation will help expand what content we can offer and how many stories we can tell.

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