Admitted late bloomer Gilroy, who later won Hobey Baker, elated with direction of RAD
Matt Gilroy tasted the highest honor of individual college hockey success when he won the Hobey Baker Memorial Award in 2009 as a senior at Boston University.
A day later, the Terriers captured the NCAA national championship in a thrilling 4-3 overtime win over Miami University.
Not too shabby for Gilroy, who said he was a late bloomer in hockey and eventually found his way into a 10-year pro career in the NHL, including time with the New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Ottawa Senators and Florida Panthers, in the AHL and overseas. He also played for the United States at the 2010 World Championship and 2018 Olympic Games.
These days, the New York native is a key instructor and coach with Rapid Athlete Development (RAD) in Southern California.
“From being friends with Brett (Beebe, owner and founder of RAD), he was talking about the program for a while and over the past five years, he’s built a great database of kids from out here on the West Coast,” Gilroy said. “I’ve always found I enjoyed working with and helping kids and I think that comes from coming from a huge family, being the second oldest of 10 kids. Helping my brothers and sisters growing up was always second nature to me.
“Working with RAD has been very rewarding and I’ve had a lot of fun doing it. I look forward to doing it every day, and it’s been an easy transition from playing pro hockey to now coaching these kids.”
Beebe said he’s been impressed with what Gilroy has brought to the program.
“For a guy with Matt Gilroy’s experience and resume to be on the ice with our kids and interacting with our families, we are all so fortunate,” Beebe said. “He has an incredible hockey story of just developing at his own pace and really trusting his own process. But more than that, he’s just a great guy who truly enjoys helping kids develop.
“I truly believe what sets RAD apart from anything else out there is the quality of our coaching staff and how enthusiastic they are about working with our players. Matt has an incredible hockey background, but more importantly, he is a quality human being that our players can look up to. I’m beyond excited to have him on the ice with us and helping the program grow.”
Gilroy said the details that go into RAD provide a tremendous value to all the young hockey players that participate in the program.
“I like that it’s not centralized to one organization,” said Gilroy. “We do a lot of spring and summer teams where we pull kids from Seattle, Texas, Las Vegas, Arizona, even some East Coast kids. It’s full of kids just getting together and playing hockey. It’s not just coming to play for RAD and only RAD. It’s about playing with kids you have played against all season long and starting new friendships with kids from different backgrounds and different youth programs from different parts of the country.
“It brings a lot of kids together from different situations, and it’s fun to watch them all compete together under the RAD logo.”
Beebe has often said that RAD has helped uncover players that develop later in their hockey careers, much like Gilroy.
“I think the problem today in youth hockey is that there are websites and rankings and select teams, and kids getting ranked at 12 years old and even younger, and with the Internet, everyone can see it,” Gilroy said. “I’m sure that was going on when I was younger, but I was never focused on that. I wasn’t even in that category at 14, 15 or 16 and it wasn’t until I was 20 playing my last year of junior. Hockey people are different and understand things quicker. People develop at a different rate and I was one of those players.
“Hockey gives you a unique situation where you can play after high school and take a couple years to develop. I took advantage of that and even though I changed positions from a forward to a defenseman, my career kind of took off after that, but kids today are in such a rush to make these select teams or get their names in rankings and websites that they forget the process. It’s a long road and it’s about personal development.
“With RAD, I think we cater to all kids, whether it’s the elite-level players or kids we see a lot of promise in. We’re not just coaching kids because they were on some ranking list. We’re coaching kids because they want to get better and I think when you bring the lesser kids in with the better kids, they get better on their own because they have to compete on their own on the ice. They rise to the occasion, and that’s how kids get better. RAD really illustrates all those development avenues.”
— Matt Mackinder
(Feb. 28, 2021)