Last season we started an interview series and never quite finished it. Fortunately, a lot of the staff is still the same, so we’re starting it up again by chatting with equipment manager, Chris Schornack! (If you missed last year’s talk with Head Coach and General Manager Tim Branham, here’s the link!)
Namiko Hitotsubashi: How did you first get into hockey?
Chris Schornack: I originally got into hockey as a stick boy, back in Michigan in the United Hockey League, just kind of asked to help out, and one thing led to another, and ended up working for them for two years.
NH: So how did you initially become interested in being an equipment manager? Was it kind of a natural progression from stick boy?
CS: Yeah, I guess! I kind of did it, then fell in love with the atmosphere, and working on the stuff. I dunno, I guess it’s a tough question to answer cause you just kinda, one day you’re like ‘oh wow, I’m doing this now!’ I would definitely say it rooted from that, just kinda being around it, I like the atmosphere, I like being on the other side of the game, just overseeing it opposed to having a huge impact in it.
NH: What’s your average workday like? People know what goes on on the ice but don’t necessarily know what goes on behind the scenes.
CS: I usually get in around 6:45-7:15 just depending what’s going on. I try to get everything done the night before. Come in in the morning, get a workout in with Snatch, have a coffee and head to our daily 8 am staff game. When that gets done I head back to the locker room where Kevin Carr and I play a best of three of ping pong. After that it’s odds and ends in the office with music on, music is always on. Like I said, try to get everything done, cause there’s usually something that pops up last minute. Best case scenario, nothing pops up, you can enjoy your coffee and talk about whatever happened the day before!
NH: Elaborating on that, during a game, what are your duties generally?
CS: Generally during the games, it’s kind of when it slows down. In a way, everything is preparation before the game, like making sure all the skates are sharpened, as well as their second set of steel is ready to go on the bench. Doing any repairs that came up during pregame skate. Doing the visitors laundry from morning skate (that’s usually Mason), folding towels and other little stuff. So it’s stuff like that, and then during the game it’s more so watching the play and watching and listening for certain things within a game — if a guy falls behind the play, how he’s getting back up, if he has an issue with something on the bench, you help out, a big hit, you want to make sure his visor is still tight, guy blocks a shot, how did the stick sound when it hit it. Being ready for guys taking a face-off to break a stick, stuff like that. Once you get used to your players you can pick up and predict when something is wrong or needs to be assisted with.
NH: What’s the craziest equipment related mishap or adventure that you’ve ever had to deal with?
CS: We had a player with an ankle related issue. I had to cut out part of his skate and rebuild the outside of the boot so it was further out, about the size of half a tennis ball. He hadn’t been able to play for a few weeks, he was able to return to the line up, always a good thing when that happens!
NH: Do you have a favorite part of your job?
CS: I’d say it’s the everyday interaction with the guys along with being in a locker room atmosphere everyday. In my opinion its one of the best places to be, besides on the beach with a Corona!
NH: Did you play hockey?
CS: Yes. Played my youth/high school hockey out of Fraser, MI. Played ACHA at Adrian College. Now just occasional men’s league.
NH: So when you were playing, did you have a favourite place to play?
CS: Our rival was always Davenport, another Michigan college. We played them a lot, as well as in National Championships one year. So it was just kind of the rivalry going back and forth. I’d say probably not necessarily their place, but playing them in general, them and Hope College we played a lot too, and that was always a good rivalry.
NH: You’ve worked a bunch of places other than here, what was your favourite location to work? You can say other places, we won’t judge you for it!
CS: You know what, to be honest with you, Amarillo. I worked there the year before last in Texas. The people were great. The lifestyle was not really up my alley, but the people made it great. I had a great management there, the assistant coach and their family took me in as one of their own, the Sutters, they were great people, and Rick Mattchett their GM there, they were great. It was fun to be there. I don’t know if I’d retire there, I told them that all the time, as a Michigan boy, but I love Utah. Coming here, just the hiking, skiing, stuff like that, I fell in love with it right away.
NH: Do you have a favourite part of being here?
CS: So many great things. My girlfriend, Laurel, her and her family are from here so it’s nice having a home away from home. They are awesome and have made me feel like family from day one. If I had to pick one, it would be downtown Main Street in Park City – summer or winter. All the shops, restaurants, bars, just the whole atmosphere is awesome.
NH: Do you have a favourite NHL team?
CS: I’ve gotta be biased, I guess, to the Red Wings. Growing up there, going to the Joe with my dad as a kid, those are memories I will never forget. I was very lucky being able to be from Michigan, going to the Joe with my dad watching those Wings’ teams during the 96-97, 97-98 and even the 01-02 teams. Beyond spoiled to grow up with that going on around me.
NH: Do you have a favourite hockey story?
CS: Nothing really crazy, however, I do remember a time when I was in Amarillo two seasons ago we had a trade with the team we were playing against that night. So after pregame skate, the trade was made and he was sent down the hall to our locker room and played with us/against his own team that night!
NH: Thanks for doing this, Chris!
Photo courtesy of Action Sports Photography and staff.
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