UAA Athletics

UAA coach candidate Chris Cosentino says Seawolves need ‘more than just a hockey coach’

Chris Cosentino is a hockey coach with a day job, and it’s that day job that Cosentino thinks will serve him well if he’s chosen to be UAA’s next hockey coach.

Go to Cosentino’s LinkedIn profile and you’ll see it doesn’t say he’s a coach. It says he’s the director of marketing and communications for the Huntington’s Disease Society of America, a position he’s held since 2014.

Read more and you’ll learn he’s worked in the nonprofit world since at least 2008 as the head of marketing and public relations for two other organizations.

You’ll also see he spent a decade as the coach of the New York University club hockey team.

He left that position in 2020 and now works as the hockey director for the New York City Skyliners youth hockey program. Before that he led an on-ice training camp for the New York Rangers when the NHL lockout ended in 2013 and he played college hockey at Iona College.

Cosentino inhabits two worlds, and that’s the kind of person the Seawolves need right now, he said last Friday when addressing boosters, alumni and others during an online forum.

“You’re getting much more than just a hockey coach, you’re getting a marketing professional from New York City who has taken a nonprofit organization from $7 million to $12 million in a very short period of time,” Cosentino said. “That’s what you’re getting here. If just a hockey coach comes in here, I don’t know if that’s gonna get the job done.

“... This is big hire, not just for UAA athletics but for the university as a whole and the community. And that’s where I really do think my experience on the marketing side of things is going to come (into play) big time.”

Cosentino is one of three men in the running to become UAA’s next hockey coach.

[Rebuilding UAA hockey means expanding the recruiting base, says coach candidate Steve Murphy of Buffalo State]

[UAA hockey alum Matt Shasby makes his case to be the next coach of the Seawolves]

Cosentino said he was impressed by the year-long fundraising effort that saved UAA hockey from elimination.

The university’s Board of Regents cut the program about a year ago but reinstated it late this summer after supporters raised $3 million -- a “truly remarkable” achievement, Cosentino said, especially during the pandemic.

Ensuring financial sustainability is vital for a program that has been targeted for elimination twice in the last few years, and Cosentino said UAA needs a coach with experience in development, fundraising and marketing.

When talking about those things with UAA administrators and supporters during his visit to Anchorage last week, “the ideas were just flying,” he said. At NYU, he said, he used connections with the school of dentistry to get custom-made mouth guards for players and with the medical center to get trainers to attend every practice at no cost to the hockey program.

Cosentino coached NYU to American Collegiate Hockey Association Division II national championships in 2015 and 2017 and guided the program to the ACHA Division I level in the 2017-18 season.

Asked about his lack of NCAA coaching experience, Cosentino said he knows going from the club level to NCAA Division I is a huge step up.

“You have to be a lifelong learner,” he said, right after noting that Aaron Boone didn’t have any managerial experience before he took over the New York Yankees.

Whoever gets the UAA job will be starting essentially from scratch. The Seawolves didn’t play last season because of the pandemic, and they’re not playing this season so the program has time to regroup.

No players remain at the school, so the new coach will need to fill a roster and build a schedule without the benefit of a conference affiliation, something UAA lost when the Western Collegiate Hockey Association disbanded at the end of last season.

To find players, Cosentino said he will rely on connections forged over the years with junior hockey coaches and college club teams. His pitch to recruits will be simple, he said: ”You’re going to have the opportunity to play Division I hockey right out of the gate.”

Beth Bragg

Beth Bragg wrote about sports and other topics for the ADN for more than 35 years, much of it as sports editor. She retired in October 2021. She's contributing coverage of Alaskans involved in the 2022 Winter Olympics.