New NAU coach Haar sees gig as ‘opportunity of a lifetime’
Ryan Haar is the new head coach of Northern Arizona University’s ACHA Division III team, but he’s hardly new to the program.
A 2017 graduate of NAU and former player for the IceJacks, Haar said once he realized his NHL dreams were dashed, coaching was the next best thing.
“I have played hockey for 20-plus years and have been a leader on the majority of teams I have played on,” Haar said. “I have an incredible passion for this great game and I am definitely a people person, so when I realized I wasn’t going to make it to the NHL, I kind of knew I would become a coach at some point in my life.”
Haar started coaching youth players when he was about 16 or 17 years old while he played for Mission AZ in Peoria.
“As players, we would volunteer to work with Kid’s First Hockey (now Little Howlers), and I had a great amount of fun teaching those kids how to skate, stick handle, and shoot,” said Haar. “Watching them develop their own love for the game was just awesome.”
Presented the idea of coaching the NAU D-III team over the summer when the previous coach, Ryan Smith, who was actually one of Haar’s captains while playing at NAU, decided to move to Denver.
“With my vast knowledge and intense passion for the game, and with the support of many of my previous coaches like Jeremy Goltz, Kris Walsh and Travis Johanson, I simply could not turn down the opportunity to take on the role of head coach of my old squad,” Haar said. “Unfortunately, I was unable to win a national championship as a player at NAU, but to get the chance to coach a team that I played for, at an organization that I have so much love and respect for, and to continue to be able to make a run at winning a national championship, is the opportunity of a lifetime.”
— Matt Mackinder
(Oct. 22, 2019)