The unsung hero: Christian Conroy’s journey with Liberty hockey
For the typical sports lover, a gameday consists of good food, good company and watching one’s favorite team engage in battle.
For men’s d1 hockey team manager Christian Conroy, however, gameday couldn’t look more different.
When Conroy wakes up on the day of a game, there’s a checklist he needs to achieve. This list typically consists of tasks such as gathering sticks, collecting skates and skate sharpening machines, ordering food for the players, doing the team’s laundry, and any other minute details that go together to ensure the players have peace of mind come game time.
“Sometimes the days are so long, you kind of forget what you did,” Conroy said. “Some tasks are pretty day-to-day, but then some that are just totally out of the blue.”
The tedious tasks that are integral to the final product, however, are Conroy’s passion.
Conroy grew up loving and watching the sport of hockey. The expensive cost of the game, however, prevented him from getting to be on the ice himself. Liberty University was the place where he learned to love the aspects of the game that take place behind the scenes.
Conroy got his first taste of the team manager role with the men’s D3 team. The early experience grew his love for the position, increasing his motivation to move up the ranks.
“I was hoping that D3 would maybe lead me to D2 or D1. And there was an equipment manager at the time, his name was Dave. He was a good friend of mine, and he was leaving that year. I asked him, “Hey, be really cool if I could get into that position,’ and he was like, ‘We’ll see.’”
A few years later, that aspiration would become a reality.
“I got the call from Kirk (Handy) saying, ‘Hey, would you like to join the men’s D1?’ I was like, wow, that’s pretty cool.”
It’s been four years since Conroy received that call, and the memories made in that time have shaped him into the man he is today.
“It’s been life-changing,” Conroy said. “In a sense, its taught me how to be very professional. But it really taught me how to learn to be a follower of Christ in a work environment.”
Every game, you’ll find Conroy behind the bench ensuring that each operation runs smoothly for the Flames. The work ethic the job requires is intense — but while he’s learned many lessons about being a true professional, his favorite part of the job has been the people he’s privileged to work alongside.
“Honestly, the friendships have been the best part,” Conroy said. “The camaraderie with the guys, like when we beat Vegas, just screaming on the bench with them and losing my breath. It was just fun.”
Now, as he serves his final games for the Flames at the ACHA National Tournament, Conroy simply feels grateful for the over 100 games he has spent with the team. While the wins may be special, the moments shared are what he will take with him.
“I’m really proud right now because the furthest we’ve ever been is the semi-finals. Now we’re back at the semi-finals again … Whether you’re a player or you’re a staff member, if you really love your team, you’re not only gonna remember the wins and losses. I’ve just been just trying to take it one day at a time and just appreciate every moment win or lose.”
The ACHA National Tournament, however, will not be the end for Conroy. The graduate student plans to continue climbing up the ladder, leaving behind the Hill City for professional sports.
“I’ll be working with an organization called Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, and they own a bunch of major league teams in Colorado. So, I’ll be working mainly with the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche … It’s my two favorite sports I get to work for them. I was like, wow, God’s really spoiling me today. That was pretty cool.”
His time with Liberty hockey, however, will forever remain close to his heart.
“The years at Liberty just show me it was all worth it,” Conroy said. “It’s been such a great journey.”
Cory is the sports editor for the Liberty Champion. Follow her on Twitter