Potsdam native Kalie Grant spent most of this week on her first recruiting trip as a women’s college hockey assistant coach, scouting youth athletes in a tournament in New Hampshire.
Grant, who was the St. Lawrence University women’s hockey captain last season, was recently hired as an assistant coach at Adrian College, an NCAA Division III program.
She joined third-year head coach Shawn Skelly on the trip to Exeter and Nashua, N.H., to try to pick up some future freshmen.
“It was exciting,” Grant said. “I’ve been on the other side of it. I know as a player it was a little intense with all the coaches in the stands with their clipboards. I really enjoyed it. It was different. I’m used to watching hockey, but I was watching from that aspect where you are looking for good players, good kids, really trying to get a feel for them. After we figured out which kids we wanted to re-watch, we bounced around (both sites) and tried to narrow it down.”
Grant is starting her coaching career at the top, joining a Bulldogs program which went 24-5-2 last season and was 22-3-3 the previous year.
“That’s something definitely exciting,” Grant said. “I came for my interview about a month ago and I kept saying to (Skelly) it was a feel I had at St. Lawrence, a smaller school, everyone knew everyone. I liked that vibe about it. It’s like their own little community right on campus. I will get a masters in sports administration while I’m coaching. It’s a small town with lots of cornfields, similar to upstate New York. It was refreshing to have a familiar feel.”
Grant, who was valedictorian at Potsdam High School and an honor student at St. Lawrence University as well, is interested in pursuing coaching as a career, which does not come as a surprise to Saints women’s head coach Chris Wells.
“It’s a natural progression for her,” Wells said. “She’s always been involved in sports and always had a good demeanor and a good head for it and a good read for the room. She gets along with people. Out on the road, recruiting, she will build a lot of relationships that will help out Adrian. She works hard and she has high expectations for herself, she sets high goals for herself. She did a great job managing being a local kid and playing here. With us being over at SUNY Canton for most of (last season), and a lot of uncertainty, she did a great job keeping the team focused.”
Grant said she picked up a lot to help her in her new career from playing for Wells, along with assistant coaches Ted Wisner, Mare McDougall Bari and volunteer coach Joe Marsh, whose camps she used to attend as a kid.
“I learned a lot from Wellsy,” Grant said. “Maybe I didn’t realize it in the moment but now that I’m on the other side of it, taking a step back and thinking about the coach I want to be, or how I want the girls to see me, he always kept it fun. He loved to win, and be competitive, but at the end of the day it was more about the experience. He cared about us as hockey players, as students and as people, which I think was huge. Mare and (Wisner), they all had different coaching styles. I would kind of implement a lot of what each of them did into my type of coaching. The major thing was how they portrayed themselves. They were fun, but we still had work to do.”
Grant was an assistant captain at SLU as a junior, despite the Saints having eight seniors on the roster. Last year, as captain, she helped the team navigate the challenge of not having Appleton Arena ready to use for most of the season while renovations were being completed. SLU played the bulk of its schedule at SUNY Canton.
“I think that’s huge,” Grant said of being a captain. “I feel that having a background, and dealing with people, it’s kind of the same aspect (as coaching). As a captain at St. Lawrence we dealt with a lot of different things. The coaches let us kind of have control. I feel as though being able to work through different problems will help me now, being a coach, when different issues arise and learning how to talk to people and cater to different people.
“We had a senior year based on being at different places. We always kind of had the same idea, no matter where we were, it was the same goals we had. We stuck together as a team. Now with (COVID-19), everything will be a little funky. It won’t be normal for a lot of the student athletes. My experience last year, dealing with things out of the ordinary, will come in handy. I know how to deal with hard situations, which will be beneficial, especially my first year.”