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For Jr. Gulls’ Leibl, daytime job and youth hockey go hand in hand

 

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During business hours, Geoff Leibl works to provide for his family.

At the rink, Leibl works to provide for his hockey family.

Leibl, the president of the San Diego Jr. Gulls, is entering his third season in that role and has also coached numerous youth teams in the association. Previously, he was a coach and executive with the La Jolla Jaguars before that program merged with the Jr. Gulls.

During his time with the Jr. Gulls, Leibl has seen the program field AAA teams, have teams that have won state championships and has sent three teams to play in the Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament.

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“One of the things I am most proud of is the growth of our program. We have gone from eight teams to 17 travel teams, which will include two all-girls teams this season, a first in San Diego,” said Leibl. “We do our best to offer a travel hockey option for almost every level and age of player, giving local San Diego players an option of staying in town and still playing high-level hockey. A big factor in our growth is the quality of our coaches. We have an excellent coaching staff who bring to the club a wide range of hockey experience, but each of them really care and always try to do what is in the best interests of each of our players.

“Our hockey director, Craig Carlyle, and I work closely together, and both agree that the club must put the players’ interest first and I think our Jr. Gulls families know that is what we try to do.”

Away from the ice, Leibl is an immigration lawyer, a job that actually coincides with youth hockey.

“I am very fortunate because my job keeps me very involved in all levels of hockey,” said Leibl. “There is probably not a day that goes by that I am not working with someone in the hockey world on an immigration matter. It could be an NHL team or agent wanting me to file for a green card for a player or a college or junior coach needing a work visa or a family of a youth hockey player moving to the U.S. who is in need of immigration assistance.

“I have been involved in the immigration side of hockey for almost 25 years and as a result, many of my hockey contacts developed through work reach out to me when there is a player of interest in the San Diego area. It is always fun to get a call from a scout asking about a San Diego player, and I do my best to promote our San Diego prospects.”

Back at the rink, Leibl loves to reflect on how much the Jr. Gulls have grown as a program.

“Hockey in San Diego is booming and will continue to grow,” said Leibl. “At some point in a hockey player’s career, there may be a need to move on and I understand that. I am confident that a player can develop and grow as a hockey player into Midgets while staying in San Diego. A recent example is Eamon Connaughton, a long time Jr. Gull who recently advanced to the USA Hockey National Camp. I am very proud of Eamon because he understood that it is not as much about where you play but how much time you spend on your craft that really determines how good a hockey player you will become. Instead of spending time in the car, he stayed in San Diego and spent time on the ice and in the gym and it has paid off for him.”

So how long will Leibl stay with the Jr. Gulls?

“I will be involved as long as they will have me,” Leibl said. “I know it is a cliché, but hockey has given me everything I have and I really enjoy being at the rink and being involved in the game.”

Photo/John Hambleton/Hambleton Imageworks

— Matt Mackinder

(July 26, 2018)