LFSN anchor McGibbon returning to DIII men's hockey bench
August 6, 2014 | Lynchburg, Va.
Liberty Flames Sports Network (LFSN) anchor Rett McGibbon will be rotating between the broadcast booth and the coach's bench this season, coaching the Flames' ACHA Division III men's hockey team for the first time in three years.
As a student, McGibbon played one season in goal for Liberty's ACHA DII team before deciding to get married and hang up the skates. He came back to coach the Flames' DIII squad in its inaugural season in 2009, a year after graduating with B.S. degrees in mathematics and chemistry/biology and a minor in French. After two seasons on the bench, with a young family of five, he shifted his focus to broadcasting.
Now, with him and his wife Diana expecting a fourth child in December, and his involvement with LFSN ever expanding, McGibbon is getting back in the coaching ring, replacing Tristan Chambers, who coached the team the past two seasons.
"I've had some long conversations the last two days with my wife," McGibbon said. "It's going to be a busy year. With LFSN … if there's a sport out there, it seems like I've got my hands in it some way."
Juggling coaching, broadcasting, and responsibilities will be challenging, but nothing McGibbon can't handle, by the grace of God.
McGibbon's brother-in-law, Jason Elliotson, who lives in Canada and co-anchored with him for some of the DI men's high-profile games last season, will be assisting him on the coaching bench at times this year.
While he is passionate about most sports, hockey is his first love and the one he has played and watched the most — both professionally from the broadcast booth and bench, and as a fan from in the stands or on the couch.
After spending countless hours analyzing the men's and women's game at the DI, II, and III levels from the second-floor balcony at the LaHaye Ice Center, he is interested in getting back into coaching and applying what he's learned.
|Rett McGibbon hovers over the Flames' DIII men's players from atop the bench in 2011.|
"I really enjoy coaching," McGibbon said. "It uses a different aspect of my brain, a bit more strategic side. I love to look at lines, I love to look at matchups and kind of strategize how I would beat this team. Even after games I've watched on television or here at the LaHaye Ice Center, I'm always thinking about the game of hockey and trying to see how things could go better or differently."
While coaching is an exciting part-time gig, McGibbon realizes his primary gifting and calling is in broadcasting.
"I want to be a broadcaster, whether it's at Liberty the rest of my life or somewhere else," he said. "I'm always trying to improve and do as many sports as possible to better myself. Broadcasting's always intriguing and fun and exciting because you never know what you're going to step into with a game."
He has worked extensively with co-anchors from the Club Sports department such as assistant director Dave Semenyna and video coordinator Patrick Strawn, but his primary broadcasting partner for DI and DII games has been Brandon Cockburn, the captain of the DIII team who returns as a first-year graduate student for a fifth season of eligibility.
Cockburn has led the Flames in scoring in each of the past three seasons and is the DIII team's all-time leading scorer with 81 goals and 53 assists in just 65 games.
"Cockburn's a guy that's a steadfast, good Christian leader and he's one of the best players in all of DIII in my opinion," McGibbon said. "We have a really good defenseman in the back in (Drew) Muir, so there will be a lot of new faces for me to get to know, but we definitely have some talent to work with."
He said Chambers raised the bar in recruiting high-level players to the DIII squad and he plans to continue that trend.
"Through recruitment camp, I heard they had a lot of pretty good players coming here in the fall," McGibbon said. "It looks like we should be set up for another good run for regionals and hopefully for nationals. Tryouts are in August, so we'll really have to wait until tryouts have gone through DI and DII, to see who they've selected, and then we'll have our kind of pick of the litter afterwards."
The Flames, who lost to Alabama in the first round of regionals last season, compete in the Colonial South Division of the Blue Ridge Hockey Conference (BRHC). Liberty will host the Potomac Patriots' B team in an exhibition game Sept. 5 before having nearly a month to prepare for its BRHC openers at LaHaye — Oct. 3 against defending Atlantic Southwest Division champion James Madison University, one of its fiercest rivals in recent seasons, and Oct. 4 against defending Atlantic Northeast Division champion George Mason University.