Chip Scoggins: Robert Morris turned season around halfway through

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 29, 2014 - 8:05 AM

Derek Schooley: He started the Robert Morris hockey program 10 years ago. This is its first NCAA tournament.

Derek Schooley’s to-do list stretched a mile long after Robert Morris University started its men’s hockey program 10 years ago.

Schooley’s first order of business as coach: Explain to recruits that Robert Morris is a private school located in Pittsburgh, not his actual name.

“Sometimes you’d call people and they would end the call and say, ‘Well Mr. Morris, it was good talking to you,’ ” Schooley said.

Occasionally, people thought he was calling on behalf of Philip Morris.

“The cigarette company,” Schooley noted.

A decade later, Schooley’s introduction no longer requires clarification in the college hockey world. His program’s steady climb hit a significant benchmark when the Colonials secured a spot in their first NCAA tournament.

Robert Morris drew the top-seeded Gophers in the first round of the West Regional on Saturday. The Colonials enter as decided underdogs, but considering they had only two victories at Christmas, they aren’t inclined to concede anything.

“Our guys have a lot of confidence right now,” Schooley said.

Enjoy a good March Cinderella story? Here they are. The Colonials began the season 2-12-2 and were dead last in the Atlantic Hockey Conference. They lost a bunch of close games and then lost their confidence.

Their season a mess, the Colonials took steps to expunge 2013 from their memories. Schooley cut out the 2013 portion from schedule posters. He erased the standings board in the locker room.

At one team meeting, he instructed his players to write down their regrets and failures. Then they fired up the propane tank on a grill and one by one, each player went outside and barbecued his list, an act that Schooley referred to as a “cleansing.”

“Whether it meant anything to them or not, it was a symbolic way to say, ‘Hey, let’s start over,’ ” Schooley said.

Something clicked. The Colonials won 17 games in the new calendar year, the most victories by any Division I team since Jan. 1.

His players can laugh about that motivational tactic now, the fact that they went outside in the snow in their shorts and T-shirts to burn paper.

“It was really cold,” forward Cody Wydo said.

Schooley knows all about starting over. He accepted the challenge of building a program after serving as an assistant coach at Air Force under Frank Serratore, father of Gophers senior forward Tom Serratore.

Schooley didn’t even have an assistant coach those first few months. He handled every task in creating a foundation. He designed jerseys, ordered equipment, put together a schedule, recruited players, sold his vision to anyone who’d listen.

It takes effort to rebuild a struggling program. It takes effort and a leap of faith to build one from scratch.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cincinnati 0 Bottom 4th Inning
Pittsburgh 0
Minnesota 0 Top 4th Inning
Baltimore 0
NY Yankees 0 Top 4th Inning
Toronto 0
Philadelphia 0 Top 4th Inning
NY Mets 0
Boston 4 Top 2nd Inning
Tampa Bay 0
Miami 0 Bottom 1st Inning
Atlanta 0
Cleveland - D. Salazar 7:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Vargas
Detroit - J. Verlander 7:10 PM
Chicago WSox - S. Carroll
Texas - S. Baker 7:10 PM
Houston - B. Oberholtzer
Chicago Cubs - K. Hendricks 7:15 PM
St. Louis - S. Miller
Colorado - C. Bergman 8:40 PM
Arizona - J. Collmenter
Oakland - J. Lester 9:05 PM
LA Angels - J. Weaver
Los Angeles - D. Haren 9:10 PM
San Diego - A. Cashner
Washington - J. Zimmermann 9:10 PM
Seattle - F. Hernandez
Milwaukee - W. Peralta 9:15 PM
San Francisco - R. Vogelsong
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
(21) Texas A&M 52 FINAL
(9) So Carolina 28
Wake Forest 10 FINAL
ULM 17
Boise State 13 FINAL
(18) Ole Miss 35
Tulane 31 FINAL
Tulsa 38
Rutgers 41 FINAL
Washington St 38
Weber State 14 FINAL
(19) Arizona State 45
Temple 37 FINAL
Vanderbilt 7
BYU 14 2nd Qtr 15:00
Connecticut 0
(6) Jacksonville St 0 1st Qtr 8:45
(8) Michigan State 14
Bowling Green 0 1st Qtr 9:05
Western Ky 7
TX-San Antonio 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 9:30 PM
Arizona
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
UCF
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
UAB
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Virginia
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Navy
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Michigan
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Houston 7:00 PM
Sporting Kansas City
Ottawa 3 9:00
Montreal 0
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
Minnesota 9:00 PM
Phoenix

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Gophers in their season opener

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close