116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Jeff Stack grew up playing hockey in Cedar Rapids.
The sport has been a big part of his life since, even after moving away and playing in Kansas City and Sioux Falls.
He always had a desire, however, to come back to Eastern Iowa.
“I came back to the area to go to college at Iowa,” Stack said. “My older brother was doing goaltending and other coaching work here at the (ImOn) Ice Arena.”
Stack talked to a few people and found a way back into the game, as coach of the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders high school team.
“... it is a nice way to get back into hockey and I love this program,” he said. “My goal is to have hockey succeed in Cedar Rapids as much as possible.”
Stack just graduated from Iowa and knows the challenges of being a young first-year head coach. He also knows the overall benefits.
“Sean McVay, who is the head coach of the L.A. Rams, is a young coach I inspire to be,” he said. “I think young coaches can bring something different to their respective sport.
“We make a lot of mistakes, but we learn from them. The overall best thing about being a young coach is the connection with players. It helps being closer to their age level ...”
Brandon Vlcko, a senior at Cedar Rapids Prairie High, has been playing hockey for eight years. He is happy to have a young coach like Stack lead the RoughRiders.
“Having Coach Stack as a first-year head coach has been a growing period for a lot of players,” Vlcko said. “We have had to work hard and push each other to work as a whole. We also need to keep each other accountable.
“Having Coach Stack this past year has helped in the change of roles for us players overall this year.”
The RoughRiders’ goal is to grow as a team and be ready for the postseason tournament. They are 5-15 overall with 11 points in the Midwest High School Hockey League.
“Our motto is that it is about not how you start, but how you finish at the end of the year,” Vlcko said. “We have been keeping that in the back of our minds all season long.”
Kansas City (21-3, 44 points) and Waterloo (21-2, 43) lead the Midwest High School Hockey League. Other teams in the league hail from Des Moines, Sioux City, Quad City, Dubuque, Mason City and Ames in Iowa; Lincoln, Omaha and Fremont in Nebraska.
Cedar Rapids plays at Waterloo Thursday night (Young Arena, 8 p.m.) and hosts Sioux City on Friday (6 p.m.) and Saturday (9 a.m.)