Tim Army Interview, Part 1

Many loyal followers of PC hockey look upon Tim Army as a savior. They see a link back to the time of Frozen Fours and nationally ranked teams. There are also many fans of Friar athletics who are pleased that the coach is an alumnus. However, for Tim Army becoming the Friar hockey coach is simply the fulfillment of his destiny.

That destiny probably began way back in the hockey boom of the late 60's and early 70's. Quite possibly cemented on the day his favorite hockey player, Derek Sanderson, threaded a pass to Bobby Orr for arguably the best remembered goal in hockey history.

For any long time Friar hockey fan there can be no greater thrill then to have Tim Army draw up Steve Rooney‘s goal clinching the initial Hockey East championship. From Shawn Whitham gathering in the puck along to the boards, to Tim in the corner, his being able to thread the pass to the breaking Rooney and Rooney burying it. Just listening to his words makes you imagine NESN is rerunning the game again.

I had the privilege of having a long conversation with Tim which covered hockey in his life. The fact that the conversation was about hockey guaranteed it would be a long conversation. Tim is clearly passionate about two things—hockey and Providence College. To paraphrase the old insurance ad, you can feel secure about PC hockey; it is now in the hands of a good hands person.

As a fan my first impression in listening to Tim talk in such detail about events long past is that this is a man who is a true student of the game. He has been building an encyclopedia of situations which he draws on to explain any aspect of hockey. What is amazing is the clarity with which he remembers these events and how well he remembers the thought process that led to them. Tim comes across as a coach who has well prepared himself for the job as PC head hockey coach. Tim Army bubbles with passion and enthusiasm for the task ahead.

Repeatedly he stressed how much hockey has been in his blood and the facts bear it out. Right now his oldest son, Derek, is beginning the process of moving up the ladder on the National teams and you can tell how proud Tim is of that. Derek was recently named to Team New England for the Select 14 Fest in Rochester Minnesota.

Tim's adjustment to returning to Providence and to Rhode Island in general has been part of a hectic summer. Besides being part of Derek's national experience Tim had his own national team experience, acting as head coach of the Select 17 Camp in St Louis Mo. There is also his son's baseball to be taken into consideration. On the PC hockey front there was final arrangement for the schedule, the necessary arrangements for travel during the season and other routine planning which must be done before the season begins.

Our discussion was a pleasant reminiscence of the hockey history of RI. The family roots in hockey go back to his grandfather His grandfather was actually a baseball man who played minor league ball throughout New England in the 20's and 30's. However in looking for a career after baseball he found his way to Providence as trainer for Providence's first AHL team, the Reds. He arrived in 1934 and remained on the job till his passing in 1969. In that span he passed onto his son Tom (Tim's dad) and to his grandchildren his love of sport.

Tim's dad, Tom, became a multi sport star in high school playing both baseball and hockey. From the local schoolboy ranks Tom did what many of Rhode Island's best high school athletes did, attend PC. There Tom was a baseball player, but he was also a driving force in the return of hockey to PC as a varsity sport. The roots of the family passion for hockey had taken a firm hold.

That passion was nurtured in Tim at an early age. As the youngest child he had the advantage of having his two older brothers already playing the sport. He was fortunate enough to have a dad willing to convert his backyard into a skating rink which led to games against his older brothers and their friends. Like any little brother in order to play with them he had to work extra hard to develop his skills as they forced him compete at a higher level. It was also another reason to love hockey, his brothers were very good and he wanted to be like them.

The formation of the coach in Tim was also formed early. The whole hockey experience was an education in itself. The travel to his brother's games, watching the Reds and Bruins on TV, seeing his brothers compete so successfully at East Providence and even the diagramming of plays with the salt shakers on the dining room table during supper gave Tim a deep understanding of situational hockey which is the foundation on which his physical skills were built and his coaching techniques first developed.

As a Rhode Islander I found it fascinating all the hockey history that Tim has experienced first hand. As a youngster he saw his brothers Tom and Billy battle in the Rhode Island Interscholastic League. They were teammates to the Wilson brothers and played against some of the best teams ever in Rhode Island. Each of his brothers earned All State honors. Tom's teams began East Providence's climb to hockey prominence, Billy with line-mate Randy Wilson might be one of the best line combinations in RI history. Together they led East Providence to a state championship. The significance is that until 2004 they were the last public school to win a state championship. Both brothers went on to earn All American honors at the college level they played.

Tim himself had a highly successful career at East Providence. He achieved all state honors and saw his team stopped twice by Mount in the state semi finals and once in the state finals. His junior team made it to the New England finals. Unlike today there were not the national select teams that exist today when he played. Still he was a highly sought after player. However, then as now, Tim made it clear Providence College was the right choice for him.

In December of Tim's senior year a scholarship offer was made to him by PC coach Lou Lamoriello. Within hours Tim had accepted the offer. With that the natural affection and strong belief in what Providence stood for started to become rooted. At the time these were part of the man selling PC to Tim. Now Tim will use these values he learned at PC, and which made him what he is today, as how he will sell PC to the next generation of hockey players. In representing PC as a place to play hockey Tim will use the unique qualities PC has to offer to shape an athlete not only athletically, but academically, socially and spiritually. Clearly his sales pitch to potential recruits will be a sincere effort to develop the player as a whole not solely as a hockey player.

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