GHS Grad Hoists stanley cup
2009 GHS graduate Kevin Gately helped the Colorado Avalanche win the franchise's first championship in over 20 years. Gately is pictured with the Conn Smythe Trophy (to his left) and Stanley Cup.
Kevin Gately, a 2009 Glastonbury High School graduate, was a member of the Colorado Avalanche organization that won the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Stanley Cup in June.
Gately is the head strength and conditioning coach for the Colorado Eagles, the Avalanche’s minor league affiliate, and was a support staff member for the Avalanche during the team’s playoff push which ended with a triumph over the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning. It marked the franchise’s first championship in over two decades.
“It was very cool,” Gately said about the Avalanche bringing their first Cup back to Colorado since the 2000-2001 season. “Everyone trusted each other’s contributions and skills.”
He described the entire organization as relaxed, adding that there was a “confident air” in the locker room during the quest through the postseason.
Gately’s road to the Stanley Cup wasn’t a direct route. After four years of playing football and lacrosse at GHS, he enrolled at the University of Connecticut to originally pursue a degree in computer engineering.
Following a few semesters of trudging through the monotony of his chosen major, Gately realized the course material “was a little boring” and went to his advisor to transfer to the exercise science program.
He said the quality of the exercise science program, combined with the course material appealed to his active lifestyle.
Upon graduating from UConn in 2013, he moved to Los Angeles and worked for a private athletic performance company before a previous contract he made while coaching lacrosse at Tolland High School helped him get a job as an assistant strength and conditioning coach with the Hartford Wolf Pack, the New York Rangers’ affiliate.
Following a stint with the Charlotte Checkers — who were the Carolina Hurricanes minor league team at the time — and three more years with the Wolf Pack, Gately worked for the University of Denver for a year before taking over as the head strength and conditioning coach with the Eagles in Loveland, CO.
Next year will mark a decade since Gately first started his career in athletic training, mostly spent in the hockey universe. He played hockey as a youth and said that the sport appealed to him because “it’s a similar culture to lacrosse.”
Gately added that the training methods among the different sports are more similar than one might think, yet vary in hockey.
“Hockey is played on a sheet of ice on skates, so there are quite a few training considerations that you have to take into account,” stated Gately.
During his time spent at the various locations, Gately has had around a dozen prospects make the leap to the top level.
This past season, Eagles’ players Jason Megna, Sampo Rante, and others had call-ups and saw playing time with the Avalanche. Gately also helped Avalanche backup goalie Pavel Francouz during his rehabilitation stint with the Eagles last fall.
“The goal is to work with and develop these players and hopefully they make that full time jump up to the NHL,” said Gately. “Being able to be a part of the development, even being a small slice of an athlete’s success, and helping them live out their childhood dream is the coolest part.”
In helping player’s achieve their dreams, Gately is living his. He credits his time spent in the weight room during high school and the influences he made in Glastonbury as being a launching point for his career.
Peter Pfeffer coached Gately in both lacrosse and football for all four seasons at GHS, including during the football program’s last state championship in 2008 when Gately was a senior.
“Coach Pfeffer instilled how much and how positive of an impact that sports can make on your life, not only while you’re playing them but after,” recalled Gately. “The relationships that I fostered throughout my time playing sports at Glastonbury High School were a major contributor to my success.”
The 2022-2023 season, which starts October 14, will be his second with the Eagles and his long term goal is to become a strength and conditioning coach in the NHL.
Gately said that being away from his family, which is still based in and around Glastonbury, has been the hardest part of his life on the road, yet he described his journey thus far as a “really incredible experience.”
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin