There is no overstating Nate Leaman’s influence on Colorado College hockey coach Kris Mayotte.
He learned much about hockey and life from the NCAA title-winner, whom he calls his “former coach, mentor, and thankfully now, friend.”
“Besides my parents, he has made the biggest impact on my life,” says the first-time head coach, 38, who plans to build upon the veteran coach’s transformative lessons observed at Union College and later Providence College. “It’s not just Xs and Os. He cares for the players, the college, and the community. It’s why you see a complete program when you look at Providence, because Nate is a complete person.”
“I realized the impact coaches have on young men’s lives,” Mayotte says. “Union and CC are quite similar as Division 3 schools with a D1 hockey program. It’s the kind of setting I believe in.”
That means helping athletes beyond the whiteboard.
“We have the responsibility to do more,” he says. “Coaches cannot hole themselves up in their offices and just focus on wins and losses.
“I learned that from all the coaches I played and worked for all the way back to [Cornell] coach [Mike] Schafer,” he adds. “They worked to build relationships on- and off-campus while spreading the message and embracing the mission of the school.”
Mayotte was a Union goalie from 2002-06, competing for Leaman his final three seasons. After playing professionally, he landed a volunteer position under Schafer that eventually led to being hired as the Tigers’ coach on April 7.
After 10 years as an assistant and associate head coach, Mayotte knows how to turn around programs.
His two years under Greg Carvel rebuilding St. Lawrence showed the importance of a culture based on hard work. Carvel led once-struggling Massachusetts to the 2021 NCAA title.
“We worked hard to prepare well and made sure we demanded the opponents’ respect,” Mayotte says.
Leaman snapped up Mayotte in 2014 and says he was a big reason why the private school won its first NCAA title that season.
Mayotte grew up a lot while Leaman turned Union around. Later as a Friars assistant, Mayotte learned how an underdog became and stayed a contender. Mayotte led recruiting efforts, which helped Providence qualify for the NCAAs in all five years there.
Mayotte won two golds and a bronze as a U.S. assistant at the world junior championships and assisted the past two seasons at Michigan, where he coached many NHL draft-caliber players.
“It’s about not getting comfortable and challenging myself,” he says. “I knew I would learn a lot from Coach [Mel] Pearson. I still have a lot to learn. That is why I chose the [CC] assistants I did.”
There is a lot of work ahead for Mayotte and his assistants, 2005 NCAA champion and Denver goalie Peter Mannino and former NHL defenseman Mark Stuart ’06, a CC All-American.
Mayotte is ready, Leaman says. “He has won championships by recruiting top players and great role players. He has coached all aspects of a team. He is a very bright young coach.”
His track record made him the choice, according to CC Vice President and Director of Athletics Lesley Irvine.
“The match is very clear and the momentum it brings is truly exciting,” she says.
Mayotte believes he can take advantage of that impetus and invigorate a team that last reached the NCAAs in 2011.
“I knew from my playing days that Colorado College was a top program and made steps to return to that level with Robson Arena [opening this fall],” Mayotte says. “I know this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”