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Hockey: How head coach Lionel Mauron found Ohio

Lionel Mauron was thrown into the spotlight during his first season as Ohio’s head coach. However, the young coach took it all in stride because his past experiences taught him to not only play the game of hockey but also the game of life. 

Mauron grew up in a small village in Switzerland with around 300 people. Many people within the village played hockey, including some of Mauron’s family friends. As a kid, he would go to the rink to watch them compete.

He was instantly hooked.

Watching his friends glide on the small patch of ice tucked away in the mountains inspired him to take his own steps out on the ice. When he was 6 years old, he started playing the sport himself. 

From there, Mauron’s love of hockey grew. To his family’s surprise, Mauron was pretty good at it. When he was just 12 years old, Mauron was recruited to play hockey at a professional training academy in Switzerland.

At that time, each of the 12 pro-hockey teams in Switzerland had an institute where they train prospects and help them prepare for the big leagues. Playing for one was an opportunity Mauron couldn’t pass up.

Mauron packed up his bags and moved to pursue his dreams of playing hockey professionally. He played for the academy until his dream was achieved. At 18, he signed his first pro-hockey contract with Lausanne Hockey Club in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Mauron played for Lausanne for two years before traveling to the U.S., playing a handful of years for multiple other teams. However, it was his years at Curry College in Massachusetts that prepared him for life after playing.

It was there that Mauron first heard about Ohio. One of his coaches at Curry College, David Nies, was previously a graduate assistant with Ohio. Nies told Mauron all about Ohio’s successful program, and when his career as a player ended after a severe injury, Mauron didn’t forget about what Nies had said.

Even though he couldn’t play anymore, Mauron wanted to stay connected to the game. He had always known he wanted to be a coach, and now was the perfect time to try it out.

There was only one problem. Mauron did not have a degree in coaching. Being a graduate assistant allowed him to obtain his master's in coaching education while also getting practical experience.

“I didn't know there was a possibility to do your studies and get your school paid for and make some money coaching,” Mauron said. “So, (in) my situation, it was a great deal. It all worked out. (Nies) helped introduce me to some people, and I met Cole Bell who was the coach here. We had a good relationship, so he hired me. The rest is history.”

From the moment he stepped foot onto campus, Mauron knew Ohio was a right fit for him. He was drawn to the feel of Athens and loved the success of Ohio’s program. He had seen multiple players go through Ohio and come out with professional contracts. Ohio was everything Mauron wanted in a program.

“It's a beautiful place,” Mauron said. “The rink and the atmosphere here is unique. You don’t find that in college hockey very often. The academics are through the roof, so it really checks all the boxes.”

After working as a graduate assistant for a year and finishing his master’s degree, Mauron got the opportunity to become the head coach of Ohio. He was officially announced as head coach Sept. 14, 2021, just 10 days before the start of the season.

It was semi-hectic trying to transition from graduate assistant to head coach in such little time, but Mauron wasn’t alone. The support of his team and the department helped make his first season as head coach successful.

Reflecting on his first season, Mauron said there are many great moments that pop into his head. Beating Liberty and Iowa State, two big Central States Collegiate Hockey League opponents, on the road were some of his favorite ones. However, Mauron said it was his team that made his first season special.

“Honestly, I have so much fun just showing up to the rink every day with this group of guys,” Mauron said. “They're really coachable. They want to learn. They're always working hard and trying their best.”

The team sees something special in him as well. Ohio has extended Mauron’s contract through the 2022-2023 season. 

Mauron has seen the many sides of life and hockey. Now that he has the chance to lead Ohio for another season, there’s no telling what he’ll do next.


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