June 19, 2012 3 Comments
Today, my mentor for the past two years parted ways with the UMass Hockey program. Don Cahoon, or “Toot” as he was known to most, was and still is one of the “Good Guys” in hockey.
He brought me in to be his Graduate Assistant and Director of Hockey Operations two years ago upon my graduation from Notre Dame. While I had performed and witnessed many of the duties of the job during my time with the ND hockey program, this was my first opportunity to “make my own way” in the hockey world. Not only did Toot give me the opportunity to work with his program, but he trusted me to do my job with little interference.
As an aspiring young coach, I needed an opportunity where I would be able to do my job yet also grow and develop as a coach. Toot and his staff gave me that and more. Two years later, I can honestly say that I could not have found a better situation for myself than the one I found in Amherst, MA.
My insights, opinions and ideas were listened to, respected and developed over the course of my time here. Toot and the staff at UMass helped me to form my opinions about the game and how it should be played and taught (whether I agreed with them or not). They entrusted me with a number of duties, including scouting reports, game breakdowns, numerous administrative duties, and allowing me to be intimately involved in every aspect of the UMass Hockey program that I could under NCAA rules.
Away from the rink, Toot was an outstanding person. Always involved in the community, I don’t know if there was anyone in the town of Amherst who doesn’t know who Toot is. He made an effort to get to know my family and my girlfriend and had me over for dinner almost monthly.
As a poor grad student trying to find his way in the hockey world, Don Cahoon offered me an opportunity to work but gave me an opportunity to grow. He has been an outstanding mentor to me and I am lucky enough to be able to call him one of my friends for the rest of my life.
Toot, thanks for the two years at UMass. You have forever changed my life and the lives of many hockey players. These hundreds of “wins” are more important than the hundreds of wins you have from a game played on ice. I cannot thank you enough for everything you have done for me and everyone who has known you. Best wishes, and I can’t wait to get out on that boat!