Photo by Tiffany Forakis
For the first time since 2010, Utah Valley University’s club sports include ice hockey. Much like any other club, the resurgence of UVU hockey was driven by the students who are passionate about it.
“For a year, the initial process was the idea of putting a team back here at UVU, but it had to be student-driven on the club side,” said Patrick Perrett, UVU’s head coach. “We have a club president and a club vice president… Right now I have a couple great assistant coaches but most of the logistics and the leg work is done by me and by the club presidents.”
Originally from Alberta, Canada, the team’s new coach grew up around the sport. In his life, Perrett has played on, managed and coached teams from high school to college. He also has experience with a German professional league. Shortly after his move to Utah in 1999, he took a position on the BYU coaching staff, where he coached for five years. During that time, Perrett also served as the director of marketing for the BYU team.
“I like to create relationships and to be able to build things that people can get involved in,” said Perrett. “I’m happy to, in a very miniscule way, be associated with [UVU] and give all these kids an opportunity to play something.”
The biggest challenge for the team was being behind schedule. The club’s charter to officially become a competitive sports organization wasn’t granted until April. Even in aspects as simple as equipment for the team, this created struggles. For the first two games of their season, they had to wear practice gear as they were unable to expedite the process of getting game jerseys. It also put Perrett at a disadvantage in organizing a schedule for the team.
“[Building a schedule] was really one of the biggest challenges because most teams set their schedules in the end of the previous season,” said Perrett. “We struggled a little bit, but then once people figured out we were serious, universities started calling me.”
As word spread around the state, excitement grew among the other in-state universities as well. The Wolverines face Weber State University, Utah State University and BYU twice each this season.
Considering all of the struggles that upstart teams face, Perrett has kept his short-term goals for the team simple.
“First and foremost we want to create a great experience for the guys who play. We want them to feel like they have ownership in the program and it’s something that they want to help create a legacy for,” said Perrett. “We want them to feel like they’re supported by the school and by the student body and we want to get the community involved… We’ve got three or four corporate sponsors now, but we need 10 to say this is a sport we want to nurture and see grow.”
Perrett believes hockey is a sport that can draw fans. If the team can get to a competitive spot and continue to battle in spotlight games against in-state opponents, this iteration of UVU hockey may just be here to stay.
I grew up on a farm in Burley, Idaho, but I’ve always had an intense love of sports. I’m studying journalism in an attempt to turn my love into a career. I’m a huge Utah Jazz, Tennessee Titans, and San Jose Sharks fan. If it’s a sport, I’ll watch it.