Lumberjacks Welcome New Equipment Manager Kyle Wagner
MUSKEGON, Mich. - Equipment managers play an incredibly important role for teams in the United States Hockey League as they go about their dizzying schedule of practices and games over the course of the long season.
The Muskegon Lumberjacks had a very good equipment manager, Brian Stoya, so they weren't surprised when he recently accepted a job with the hockey program at Merrimac University.
"He grew a lot during his time here, and we're happy and excited for him," said Lumberjacks Coach Mike Hamilton.
Luckily the Lumberjacks were able to find a quality replacement just before the start of the season.
Kyle Wagner, 23, a New England native, accepted the job over the weekend and on Wednesday was driving to Pittsburgh, where the Lumberjacks will open their season in the USHL Fall Classic with games on Thursday and Friday.
Wagner had been working as the assistant equipment manager for the Worcester Railers of the East Coast Hockey League. During the summer he worked in the same position for the Worcester Red Sox, a minor league baseball team in the Boston Red Sox' organization.
Before that Wagner studied and played hockey at Davenport University and was eager for the opportunity to return to West Michigan.
"When I left Davenport I told myself that if I ever had the chance to come back to Michigan I would," he said. "When I saw the job posting, and noticed it was in Muskegon, close to Grand Rapids, I jumped at it. I fell in love with Michigan when I was there."
Hamilton said he believes that Wagner is ready to be the lead equipment manager for a team like the Lumberjacks.
"He's a young guy, but he has lots of experience being around teams," the coach said.
Hamilton said Wagner will have his work cut out for him, because the equipment manager puts in long hours every day making sure the players and coaches have everything they need to function, at home and on the road.
"They put in a huge amount of time, before we even arrive at the arena in the morning and long after we go home," Hamilton said. "They are constantly setting up, breaking down and making sure we have everything. It really is a traveling circus."
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