How Michael Garteig and John Rey are preparing for career success, on and off the ice

Author: Spencer Karn, for PHPA.com
Date: Mar 19, 2018

Balancing hockey and school is nothing new to Michael Garteig and John Rey.  The pair enjoyed successful NCAA careers before advancing to the ECHL and are continuing to pursue higher education through the Van Loan School at Endicott College Master of Athletic Administration program while living out their dream of playing professional hockey.

The M.Ed. program at Endicott College is a graduate program for students seeking a career in the sport industry such as sport marketing, event management, facility management or college or secondary school athletics among other career paths.  They offer a unique online course structure to accommodate the busy lifestyle of a professional hockey player, for example.  Garteig and Rey believe that the education they receive through the Endicott program combined with their experience as professional hockey players will enable them to maintain a career in hockey long after their playing career is complete.

Michael Garteig began his ascent to professional hockey after four year of junior in the BCHL followed by four more as a student athlete at Quinnipiac University where he obtained an undergraduate degree in marketing, and began his MBA before the end of his senior year.  The goaltender from Prince George, British Columbia embraces his college experience as four of the best years of his life, and recalls his fondest memories from competing in the NCAA National Championships.

“My freshman and senior year we went to the National Championship game and unfortunately lost, but it was still a great experience,” said Garteig.  “My senior year we won the ECAC Championship for our conference for the first time in school history. We only lost four games that year so it was pretty special.  I had the privilege to play alongside some great guys and made some friendships that will last a lifetime.”

Upon graduation, Garteig landed a contract with the Vancouver Canucks.

“I knew they had some good goaltending prospects but I was up to the task.  I was confident and just wanted to play well to show that I belong.  At the start of the year they assigned me to their ECHL affiliate in Alaska, which was an invaluable experience. I ended up spending a good portion of my year in Utica as well with the Canucks’ AHL affiliate.  Both provided amazing experience as I transitioned to the professional level.”

Now playing with the Canucks’ ECHL affiliate in Kalamazoo, Garteig credits his veteran goalie partner Joel Martin as a key influencer in his development as a professional hockey player.

“Joel has been one of the most classy, top-notch goaltenders I have ever played with. He comes to the rink every day and puts in the work, he’s so dedicated and works almost harder than anyone and he’s 35 years old, which is pretty impressive to see.  We have a good relationship – a friendship – as goalie partners and he’s been huge for me.”

While developing his professional career on the ice, Garteig has also been proactive in planning for a future career after hockey. His passion for the game combined with his interest in business lead him to want to complete his Masters degree.  After much deliberation and consultation through the Professional Hockey Players’ Association (PHPA) Career Enhancement Program, Garteig chose to enroll in the Endicott College program.

“I was just exploring my options. I started my MBA at Quinnipiac in Business, and I wanted to build off that.  I spoke with Larry Downes (Coordinator of the PHPA Career Enhancement Program) and he turned me towards some programs that would potentially interest me.  Then the Director of Endicott’s program, Anthony D’Onofrio, reached out to me. I asked him what job opportunities would come out of this program and he listed off some jobs that probably for the first time in my life genuinely interested me besides being a professional hockey player. I plan on playing as long as I can obviously, but at the same time I know there’s life after hockey, and I don’t want to be finished playing and think ‘Whoa, what happened? Where do I start?’”

Garteig has enjoyed his studies with Endicott College, developing a new perspective on the sport industry. He mentions time management as a key component of being able to balance his studies while nurturing his pro career, but has found the program structure accommodating toward a busy lifestyle.

“I went to college and played hockey so I’ve become accustomed to it.  Endicott offers courses which take 6 weeks to complete, which helps me dedicate my time when I’m not playing to completing my studies. It’s had its challenges, but so far it’s been great, and it feels good working toward something that will help you later on in life.”

Garteig’s career aspirations after hockey involve using his education and experience in sport to work in college athletics, either as a coach or Athletic Director. He extends thanks to the PHPA for helping him in his decision toward achieving these ambitions.

“I reached out to Larry Downes for advice and he was very helpful at connecting on a personal level. He made a point to know who I was before getting into anything. I was really impressed. He set some things up for me and let me know about the reimbursement program for ECHL players which saved me $400 per class, so that’s a big savings when you’re looking at around $1,200 per class, you can’t really get a class anywhere else for $800.  Larry was extremely helpful, as well as the rest of the staff at the PHPA, and I’m happy that they are always there whenever I need anything.

John Rey is another ECHL player who is enrolled in the Master of Athletic Administration program at Endicott College.  Splitting time this season between the SPHL and the ECHL’s Norfolk Admirals, Rey has demonstrated great determination as he strives for success, both on and off the ice.

After playing junior with the Amarillo Bulls in the NAHL, Rey made the decision to move closer to his hometown of New Jersey by selecting to attend Robert Morris University (RMU) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

“Three years so far away from my family, and then to get an opportunity to get an academic and athletic scholarship to a school that was closer to home was probably the biggest impact on why I chose Robert Morris,” said Rey.  “I also knew I wanted to go to a smaller school, not a big university where I’d get lost in the crowd.”

While working towards an accredited Bachelors Degree in Business Administration at RMU with a major in Economics and a minor in Finance, Rey was an integral member of the University’s Varsity Men’s Hockey Team.

“One of my best memories was winning RMU’s first championship my freshman year. We had started out the year 2-12 and then went on an 18-5 run to finish the year and win a championship. Our final game was played on ESPN against top ranked Minnesota, and was in front of a sellout crowd at the Excel Center. It was a really cool memory and probably the biggest one of my college career.”

During his final year of college, Rey decided it was time for him to move on to the professional ranks. Completing his final courses online, Rey moved to Tennessee to play with the SPHL’s Knoxville IceBears.

“It was a great first 4-5 months of pro hockey and I developed a lot. The town really supported us. I don’t have any bad experiences or anything negative to say about Knoxville, it was truly a great place to start my pro hockey career.“

Forwarding to the 2017-18 season, Rey received a call up to the Norfolk Admirals of the ECHL.

“I got the call from Norfolk, their assistant coach reached out to me and inquired about signing me to come up and play for them, and again I jumped all over the opportunity. I’ve definitely grown a lot through the experience in the ECHL. It’s helped me not just as a pro, but also with my life when moving forward into my next job.“

Rey has always known he wanted to be a professional hockey player. His dedication to the sport has not only led him to achieve this goal, but to also discover a new passion toward the business aspect of hockey. Seeking to utilize his degree from RMU and advance his education, Rey too looked to the PHPA for direction towards post-graduate university programs he could pursue.

“When I got ahold of the PHPA and found some options, Endicott stood out to me right away. I did some homework on the school and talked to Larry Downes, who put me in touch with Anthony D’Onofrio, the Athletic Administration Program Director at Endicott. Both of them were extremely helpful in walking me through the process and telling me everything I needed to know and answering every question I had before jumping into it. I felt I finally had the missing piece.”

The Masters program has served as a great tool for Rey thus far, accommodating his busy lifestyle as a professional hockey player.

“Currently I am enrolled in the sports marketing and media course. One of the things I really like about Endicott is the breakdown of each semester. They have spring, summer, and winter semesters, just like every school, but they have 3 sessions within each one of these terms, so you can take a few courses per semester. This first session, while I was still trying to get acclimated to the ECHL lifestyle, I decided to just take the one course.

It was also nice to know that there are other professional hockey players taking the same class I’m in. To have that connection, it was reassuring to know they were on the same journey and had the same mindset.”

Rey’s studies have also drawn the attention of his teammates, helping to foster relationships with them and the connections they have within the industry.

“My teammates saw me doing homework in the hotel lobby, and as soon as I started telling them what I was involved in, it definitely drew their attention and actually helped make some new connections on the team, as some guys have contacts in front office positions around the NHL and said they were willing to help. So I would definitely recommend it to players who are looking to grow their game after hockey.”

While still having his sight set on excelling in his professional hockey career, Rey looks forward to a future in a management position with an NHL organization. He feels his playing experience at an elite level, his Bachelor’s Degree, and now his Master of Athletic Administration at Endicott College, have equipped him with all the necessary tools to achieve such an ambition.

“When it came time for me to look at the Career Enhancement Program, Larry Downes and the rest of the PHPA jumped all over it and helped me to get here right away.”

For more information on the Master of Education in Athletic Administration (MAA) program through the Van Loan School of Graduate and Professional Studies at Endicott College, please contact Anthony D’Onofrio, Director of Graduate Athletic Administration at 978-998-7791 or email adonofri@endicott.edu.

 

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