Cahoon Enjoying Life After Coaching
by Mike McMahon/Staff Writer
“So this is what you guys do?” quipped former Massachusetts head coach Don Cahoon at a small group of media members enjoying overflowing plates of food prior to Boston University’s 3-1 win over Merrimack last Friday.
“I wish I knew, I would have joined you a long time ago.”
Cahoon made his television debut on Friday as the color analyst on Merrimack’s television broadcast. For the first time in nearly 30 years, he isn’t behind the bench of a college hockey team.
This past summer, he resigned from his position as head coach at Massachusetts. Before that he was the head coach at Princeton (1991-2000) and Norwich (1979-82) as well as various stops as an assistant, including Massachusetts-Lowell and his alma matter, Boston University, as part of a coaching career that dates back to 1974.
“It can be a hurricane,” he said of coaching. “But a lot of people think that when a coach walks away from the game you just want to get away from it, but I don’t feel that way at all. I still love the energy.”
Always a character, even Cahoon seems more relaxed now that he’s away from the stress and turbulence of the coaching tornado.
Instead of worrying about line charts, getting a commitment from a coveted recruit or last-minute tinkering to his power-play unit, he spent the pregame on Friday telling stories about a tournament in Ottawa from his Princeton days and how Martin Nolet, a former UMass defenseman and pre-med major, epitomized the dedication it took to be a college hockey player.
“There are certainly things I don’t miss,” Cahoon said. “I don’t miss worrying about getting on a plane Sunday night and heading out west or having to get into the car and drive five hours up to Quebec, things like that. You also have to remember you have 30 kids, so even if 90 percent of the time everything is in order, that means you still have three kids that might be in hot water with something, and it’s mostly small stuff, but counseling all of those little issues really can wear on you.”
Nowadays he keeps busy remodeling his home on Massachusetts’ North Shore near where he grew up in Marblehead. Even while living in Amherst and in New Jersey, he and his wife, Cindy, have owned it for years.
“We always rented it,” he said, “ironically our renter was up not this past summer but the summer before so we began rehabbing it and now it’s a place where we’ll spend a lot of time.”
Cahoon also plans to start a mentoring program, helping kids who have the goal of playing college hockey.
“Most of them think they know what they’re getting into but for the most part they don’t have a clue,” he said. “Most kids are in the dark about what they have to do and what they’re going to be dealing with unless their father played at that level or they had a coach who really mentored them. A lot of kids have illusions of grandeur, and that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy the sport, but you have to balance a constructive social life and a productive academic life to achieve all of your goals.
“I think I can help people. It will keep me involved in the aspect of mentoring, which was my favorite aspect of coaching. It was those meetings behind closed doors and establishing the relationships and helping my players. That’s what I enjoyed most.”
Cahoon said he hopes to have the program established within the next year.