Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock has captained and won championships with a team that had a spaceman logo.
Now he’ll coach one.
Schrock, who skated professionally for the Komets from 2009 to 2015, was introduced today as the first head coach of the Fort Wayne Spacemen, a junior team that will play at SportONE/Parkview Icehouse beginning in September.
“I hope I can get kids to the next level and it’s fun to do it in your backyard as well,” said Schrock, a native of Fort Wayne.
Schrock has spent the last year as youth program director and assistant arena manager at Trine University, a post he will step down from later this summer.
“That experience and the people I worked with in Angola was a special one,” said Schrock, 34. “But being back in Fort Wayne, it’s fun. It seems like I always come back.”
After retiring from the Komets in 2015, Schrock was the head of athlete development at the Icehouse and also oversaw youth programs there for Canlan Ice Sports. He’s also coached the Summit City Panthers to a state title in high-school hockey.
“It’s been (beneficial) just having the experience of developing an entire youth program, and going back and literally teaching kids who are 6 years old how to skate, and going back and redefining the fundamentals,” Schrock said. “And I’ve had just the itch to stay competitive as well. Helping the kids skate at a higher level is something I’m passionate about.”
The Spacemen, who were launched May 20, will play a 44-game Junior A season in the United States Premier Hockey League. The owners include three Fort Wayners, John Finch, Todd Ramsey and Todd Hensley, along with Chicago-based John Schwarz.
While the Spacemen aren’t the first Junior A team in Fort Wayne -- the Federals played at the Icehouse from 2010 to 2015 -- the hope is that they fill a void for players who have honed their skills locally and want to play in college or the pros.
“For the youth in Fort Wayne, it’s a carrot they can look at and strive to be on the Spacemen team,” Schrock said. “We haven’t really had that in our youth programs, and I think a lot of kids leave Fort Wayne too young and go to other places because they don’t think there’s an end-of-the-tunnel path here in Fort Wayne. This will provide an avenue for those kids.”
Schrock, 5-foot-11, 190 pounds, was an underdog throughout his career, which included time at Junior B before he played in the North American Hockey League. He captained Neumann College to a Division III college title in 2009 before his career in the pros as a speedy, gritty forward.
“Having been disappointed, having to be a Junior B player when I wanted to be a Junior A player, having to settle for Division III (college hockey while) wanting to play Division I, it’s something important that I have experienced,” Schrock said.
“Hey, sometimes you’re not quite good enough to play at the next level and it takes a place like this, a team like this, to help get you there. We really want to be a trampoline to get kids to the next step. Having experienced that myself, it will help me establish rapport with some of those kids in that situation.”