Green brings knowledge to ASU, high school hockey
When Tait Green first arrived in Arizona in late 2001, he accepted the fact that he wouldn’t be able to play hockey, the sport he grew up playing in Elk River, Minn.
But that changed when a friend approached him with a coaching opportunity with the Arizona High School Hockey Association (AHSHA).
“One of the first things I did was call home and say, ‘Hey, ship my gear out here. I get to play and I get to coach,’” Green said.
Green has strong ties in the desert hockey community with his presence on both the youth and the university level. He currently serves as AHSHA’s hockey director for its Premier program for advanced players and is an assistant coach with Team Arizona, which competes in the annual USA Hockey High School Showcase tournament. With AHSHA, Green is a non-voting member of the Board of Directors with a two-year term that expires in June 2017.
The mission of AHSHA is to provide students the opportunity to participate in a high-quality youth sports program, promoting the life skills inherent to participation in a competitive environment. The values of sportsmanship and family participation are at the forefront of all efforts.
Green also coaches Arizona State University’s American Collegiate Hockey Association Division II Maroon team, a position he’s held for two years.
“He knows how to push your buttons,” said Tyler Harcus, a forward on the Maroon squad. “He’s passionate about the game, he’s always watching hockey – it’s pretty much his whole life. To be a good coach, you’ve got to be around the game a lot, and he is.”
Maroon teammate Scott Farr recalled a time when Green’s lessons were at work.
After a Showcase game last year that resulted in a 7-0 victory, the team proceeded to the locker room, leaving their sticks on the bench.
“We killed that team,” Farr said. “But he wasn’t too happy we left our sticks out. He grabbed them and came in (the locker room) and threw them on the ground and told us to put them away.”
Their coach’s passion comes from the time spent on the outdoor rinks in Elk River, a small suburb of about 23,000 people that lies about 35 miles northwest of Minneapolis.
Outdoor ice rinks are common in those parts.
And so are hockey players to skate on said rinks.
“Even your buddies that might have played other sports, on any other given weekend you’d find them on the outdoor rink with you,” Green said.
Being around the ice since age five, first as a player with a junior hockey national title background in Minnesota and then as a USA Hockey coach and player evaluator for USA Hockey Minnesota District Select 15 Camps and Select 17 Festivals, has allowed him to make an impression on his players.
“He’s relatable,” ASU Maroon forward Marcus Velasco said. “He’s laid-back. I’ve had coaches who were pretty intense or didn’t know what they were doing. But he’s a real players’ coach.”
Green isn’t the only one who has left old-time hockey roots in search for a warmer climate. From the Eastern states to Canadian provinces, hockey goers have found their way to the down to the desert.
“I think coaches who are from those big-time hockey cities have a better understanding of the game,” Farr said. “Every game was important to them growing up. Their culture is a lot different.”
This group of players, coaches and lovers of the game have helped work towards keeping the tight-knit community alive and growing.
“We are all here for the same reasons,” Green said. “The beautiful weather, the nice life, but we have a passion for hockey. I’ve worked with coaches from New York, California and Boston, and it’s neat to have all of us from around the country working towards one goal.
“When it involves frozen ice while being in 100-degree weather, it’s pretty unique.”
— Nicole Vasquez