OU hockey coach to lead John Lindell Ice Arena’s hockey programs

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published November 5, 2014

 Gordie Schaeffler is the new hockey director and assistant manager at the John Lindell Ice Arena in Royal Oak. Schaeffler resides in Clawson and looks forward to enhancing youth programs at the city-owned arena.

Gordie Schaeffler is the new hockey director and assistant manager at the John Lindell Ice Arena in Royal Oak. Schaeffler resides in Clawson and looks forward to enhancing youth programs at the city-owned arena.

Photo by Donna Agusti

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ROYAL OAK — Gordie Schaeffler doesn’t sidestep a challenge. In fact, the more work required, the more he is all-in.

Schaeffler’s latest challenge is his new role as the head hockey director and assistant manager of the John Lindell Ice Arena. The arena on Lexington Drive in Royal Oak is a city-owned facility.

Schaeffler, 36, began working at the arena last month and balances the full-time commitment with his other job as the head coach of the Oakland University ACHA Division 1 hockey team.

“We are very excited to add Gordie to our management team at John Lindell Ice Arena in Royal Oak,” said Kevin Delamarter, Suburban Sports Group General Manager-Royal Oak Ice Arena. “His experience in coaching and player training and development will provide a very positive influence in the role of hockey director for our Royal Oak Hockey Club.

“Gordie will be bringing the same mentality to player development that he brought while coaching the Oakland University Men’s Hockey team for their 2006 and 2007 National Championships in the American Collegiate Hockey Association.”

Schaeffler comes to the arena at a time of change.

Youth hockey at the arena went through a transition this year, changing from the volunteer-based Royal Oak Hockey Association to the new Royal Oak Hockey Club.

The new youth hockey structure will be led by Schaeffler, rink staff and the Suburban Sports Group, which city officials hired to manage the rink.

“So far, the feedback has been great,” Schaeffler said. “We just have to keep pushing that rock up the hill.”

Schaeffler said they did lose some kids after the transition, but change is on the way.

“We’re hoping to bring those people back and then get some new ones in once they see the product that we have for them and how it is changed and how it’s developing now,” he said.

Changes in the works include a set payment schedule and set ice time.

In his new role, Schaeffler will be in charge of selecting and training coaches within the club, parent education, player development, team formation, managing practices and games, and the daily operations of the ice arena.

“I want to make it a destination for players to come here,” he said. “We want to be better as a whole for youth hockey.”

Schaeffler is in charge of all teams, including seven travel teams, 10 house teams and the U8 program.

His other goals for the arena are to make sure the facility has the best ice possible, the best teams and the best appearance.

Schaeffler said they are trying to grow the youth hockey programs so the kids will get better, the parents will be better informed, and children will attain their hockey goals and more.

“We want to help develop them as best as we can and give them the skill sets and the tools of the game they need to be successful on the ice and also help them grow as young men and women to be successful off the ice,” he said.

And he wants the kids to enjoy themselves and have fun.

“No matter what you are doing, whether you are coaching, playing, or just watching, when it comes down to it, that is why you are playing the game is to have fun,” he said.

Before taking on this role, Schaeffler was the hockey director of Total Performance Training Center in Wixom for seven years. This is his second season as head coach at OU. He spent eight years as an assistant coach, totaling 10 years with Oakland’s hockey program.

Schaeffler has been playing hockey since he was 3. He played out of the Detroit Skating Club when he was young and followed his dad’s lead with the love of the sport.

“It always grew on me. I just love playing it. I love the speed of it and the fun you have with the guys,” Schaeffler said.

Schaeffler lives in Clawson with his wife, Stacy, 1-year-old daughter, Sloan, and their Weimaraner, Hadley.

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