Arizona Rubber

Arizona’s and New Mexico’s Authoritative Voice of Hockey

AHU thrilled to add Radke as new 14U Bantam White coach


As hockey in Arizona slowly gets back to open rinks and players suiting up in anticipation of the upcoming 2020-21 season, the Arizona Hockey Union has made a major move in the association’s coaching ranks.

Longtime youth hockey coach Tony Radke will join AHU next season as the club’s new 14U Bantam White coach, a position he says is very exciting and promising.


“Like most youth coaches, I started coaching my son’s house team 16 years ago,” Radke said. “That same season, I was asked to assist on a young travel team. From there, I continued to work hard to develop my skills as a coach. I stopped coaching my son a few years after that and have continued to coach teams where I do not have any kids involved. Coaching for me was always something that I didn’t want to be dependent on my own kids.

“As a result, I have taken great pride in working to have a positive impact on the lives of hundreds of kids over the years. Now having many former players in college or leading productive adult lives, it motivates me to continue to use coaching as a way to help shape important life lessons for youth players.”

Arizona Hockey Union president Stacy Shupe said bringing Radke on board will be a win-win for everyone involved.

“We are thrilled to have engaged Tony to join us this season,” said Shupe. “He will build upon the already solid foundation of our 2007 group, positioning them for continued successes. We believe his past experiences in the sport will bring important perspectives to the program overall. He will assist us in educating hockey parents at large about development, reasonable goals and expectations.”

Originally from Chicago, Radke’s family moved to Phoenix when he was 12. For as long as he can remember, sports have been a staple in his daily routine.

“Sports have always been a very big part of my life,” Radke said. “I grew up playing football, baseball, soccer, and pretty much anything I could get access to. That has never left me. I am a big college football and pro football fan as well as college hockey and pro hockey.”

As far as leading a team behind the bench, Radke has certain expectations and qualities he is looking for in his teams.

“What I want from a player more than anything is good character,” said Radke. “This defines everything. Good character players are always committed to respecting their coaches and teammates and have a strong desire to learn and get better. They take an active role in their own development and provide leadership through their actions. As players get older and look for opportunities to play at higher levels, character is often the difference between making a team or being left behind.”

Radke also explained what can make a hockey player better off the ice.

“Play as many sports as possible,” Radke said. “The benefits of playing multiple sports is often overlooked. Be an athlete, not just a hockey player. Try all sports. Have fun with them.”

Being in the game for a while, Radke knows that the coaching ride can sometimes mimic that of a roller coaster.

So what are Radke’s pet peeves when it comes to hockey parents?

“This is a broad question that it is hard to answer,” said Radke. “The easy answer might be the ‘gossipy’ parent that always wants to criticize the coach in the lobby or even the parent that complains in the stands during games about their players’ ice time, number of shifts, etcetera. Those are all frustrating to coaches, but perhaps a bigger concern would be situations where there is no positive communication between coaches and parents. I have seen too many times where parents can undermine a coach without even meaning to do so simply by interjecting their own ideas or direction to their player without fully understanding what the coach is trying to achieve. This ultimately has a very negative impact on their player.

“The parent-coach relationship has to be a partnership of sorts. Coaches need to communicate fully what the direction is for the team and parents need to avoid ‘coaching’ their player to support the direction the coach is working to achieve. I most enjoy the team atmosphere and life lessons the sport provides. There is simply no greater team sport that hockey, but I think my least favorite aspect is the politics that find their way into youth sports.”

Looking ahead, Radke discussed the most important thing he wants to get out of the 2020-21 season?

“Each season for me is about player development and preparation for what is to come in subsequent seasons,” Radke said. “Far too often, players and families focus solely on the current season with little to no understanding of the longer-term objectives or how to establish a plan to help their player achieve their goals. This becomes increasingly important at the 14U level. Education plays a key role for families and players at this age to simply understand the many paths a player can take to things like Midget and junior hockey or eventually the college level.

“It’s truly a matter of cooperative education and defining what direction will be best for them now and in the future to stay on that path. This is why I am so thrilled to be working with a program like AHU that is committed to providing this level of education to its families to help them gain a greater understanding of these steps and make informed decisions. With so much confusion and misinformation also surrounding youth Tier levels, this season I will be working to give my families the information they need to understand the choices they will have in the next few years while also helping the players continue to develop and work toward their goals.”

Radke also added that he has advice for prospective players on the AHU Bantam team in the fall.

“Allow yourself to be coachable,” said Radke. “Be willing to fail and make mistakes first to succeed later. Take pride in your effort to grow as a player and person and be a player you would like to coach.”


What is your NHL team? Favorite player? “While I like a number of teams, I have to say the Coyotes are my favorite. Favorite player is a tough one, but I really like what Jakob Chychrun has done since coming into the league. I think he is a great example of the hard work and commitment needed to be successful and continue to develop.”

Do you have hype music in the locker room? What would be your song/band? “I am a big country music fan but for hype music, I would have to go with classic rock. You can never go wrong with AC/DC.”

Do you have any hobbies besides hockey? “I am an avid golfer.”

Have you ever had a nickname? What is it? “Never really had a nickname. Have always just gone by Tony.”

If money was no object, what would you do all day? “This is a tough one. So many choices here, but I think I would play golf in the morning and spend the rest of the day boating on the ocean.”

What’s your favorite holiday? “This one is easy. Christmas, without question.”

What was your first job? “I bagged groceries at Safeway.”

Best vehicle for hockey – van or truck? “Truck, for sure.”

What’s missing in your life right now? “Tough question. I’ll say a vaccine.”

In what ways are you the same as your childhood self? “When I was young, my involvement in sports showed me that the only way to improve was to work hard for it, to decide what you wanted to achieve and have the willingness and determination to go get it. I’m very thankful that attitude stayed with me through to my adult life and has been a factor in any personal success with things like coaching, family and business.”

— Sean Phillips

(July 30, 2020)

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