Arizona Rubber

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Young, ambitious coach Wasser thriving with Mission AZ program

 

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Throughout Jeremy Goltz’s tenure running the Mission Arizona hockey club, he has operated under the principle that developing young hockey players and young adults is often most effective when you give them responsibility and put them in positions to succeed.

He takes the same approach with young coaches, and believes he has a star in the making in 26-year-old Mitch Wasser.

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“I have had the pleasure of watching ‘The Wizard’ not only grow as an excellent hockey coach, but find his voice,” said Goltz, Mission’s director of hockey operations. “He sees the game and has an understanding of it that is special. He is a tremendous asset to our program and players. I look forward to watching him develop.”

Wasser was born and raised in Phoenix and first caught the hockey bug when he began playing roller hockey at the age of five. He moved over to playing ice hockey a year later when the Coyotes moved to town and opened the Ice Den Scottsdale just a short drive from his family’s home. He played travel hockey out of the Ice Den through Midgets and for all four years of high school at Pinnacle High School.

He jumped into coaching at Pinnacle right out of school and each year took on more and more responsibilities, eventually becoming the program’s head coach. In 2010, he was presented an opportunity to move over to Mission when fellow coach Glenn Karlson joined the program, and he jumped at the chance.

Wasser has been with Mission ever since, and this season serves as an assistant coach for the 18U Red, 16U Red and Bantam Red teams. He’s also on the ice often with the Bantam White, Pee Wee Red and 16U White teams, as most of Mission’s coaches help out wherever they can throughout the program.

“Sometimes it’s a five-day-a-week job, and others, it’s six or seven,” said Wasser, who also works a full-time job managing a warehouse and handling marketing and social media for a shoe company. “They’re long days for me, but I love it, so it’s all worth it.

“I never played for Mission growing up, but had some close friends who did. When I came over in 2010, I didn’t really know what to expect. I had heard from friends what the program was like, but it’s very different being on the inside. Mission has an amazing culture, and I’m proud to be a part of the program.”

While Goltz always keeps a watchful eye on everything happening within his program, he also likes to be hands-off to a certain degree, letting his coaches find their own niche and allowing them to develop into strong leaders.

“Every year, (Goltz) puts me in a slightly different position and tweaks my role to allow me to grow, take on more responsibility and learn as a coach,” Wasser said. “I’ve been a head coach and an assistant coach with Mission, and there’s a ton of opportunity that allows for everyone to have their hand in things.”

Wasser said he has stayed at Mission for a number of reasons, but a big part of what he likes about the program is the way players and coaches interact. Everyone is pulling on the same side of the rope, from the top to the bottom of the program, and that goes a long way toward team and individual success.

“The family atmosphere here is very real,” Wasser said. “Everybody knows each other within the program, which can’t be said for other programs. The younger guys know the older guys, and vice versa. The younger kids come out to the older teams’ games. It’s a whole different atmosphere, and Jeremy is probably the best coach I’ve ever been around – tactically hockey wise, but also as far as developing kids into great young adults and teaching the lessons that the game has to offer.”

— Greg Ball