The Homer Mariner hockey team is entering the New Year with high hopes after the team ended 2012 defeating Juneau Douglas but losing to the alumni team.
As they prepare for the second half of the season, the two senior managers of the team, Sierra Roberts and Katie Pitzman, continue to be relied upon and respected in the rink.
“What they do for the team is very much appreciated by the coaches, players and parents. We try to acknowledge how essential they are as part of the team,” said Coach Buck Laukitis.
Both are second year managers for the Mariners, Homer High School yearbook editors and lifelong friends who coincidentally both got interested in the game from their younger brothers.
Last year Laukitis started them off with usual manager tasks such as filming games, filling water bottles and assisting with statistics which carried on into the next season
But with both Roberts and Pitzman showing a good grasp of what it takes to mange a hockey team, Laukitis decided to take a completely different approach with the managers — letting them do it their own way.
“They generally know what needs to be done. I ask them what needs to be done rather than coaches trying to think of more work and menial tasks,” said Laukitis.
“They take responsibility for what needs to be done and they handle the details. We check in every day at practice. Some days I have something for them, some days they have something they need for me to do. They are patient and kind and take it easy on the coaches when we don’t remember something. These are real life skills.”
Laukitis also describes the two managers as responsible, dependable and talented, giving credit to the game of hockey as a way for them to shine.
Roberts and Pitzman enjoy managing because of their shared love for the game. Neither plan on managing after the season and appreciate the rapidness of Homer’s hockey season.
“The hockey season is crazy; they play a ton of games in a really short time. The whole season is only a couple months and in no time at all we went to the valley twice and hosted our own tournament,” said Roberts.
The two managers invest as much time as the players in hockey, attending every game and practice, taking care of behind-the scenes details and, in general, doing whatever it takes for the team to function smoothly.
Along with normal managing duties of keeping the jerseys clean and water bottles full, added tasks now include taking pictures, formatting the game film for the team to watch and creating the programs of each home game.
There’s an opportunity to watch the Mariner hockey team and their managers this weekend.
The red, green and blue come into town as Homer takes on Wasilla, Colony and Palmer beginning tonight at 7:30 at the Kevin Bell Arena.
Norm Anderson is a graduate of Homer High School and a freelance writer.