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Hockey team’s state win one of many for long-time coach

Melton credits past coaches and experiences to his coaching success

Alyssa Pak

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Coach Bob Melton led the New Trier Green Team to a win in the championship game on Mar. 17, with a record high of over 11,000 people in the stands.

“Training for the state championship game is a process over the course of an entire season. We try to play as many of the toughest teams and competition throughout the year so that we’re ready to go,” said Melton.

Melton has been the coach of the boys club varsity hockey team for the past twenty years, and throughout his overall 26 years of coaching, this is not the first state championship that one of Melton’s teams has won.

Melton has led Green Teams to over eight state championship wins. He explained that one of his favorite moments during his career was while he was still in his first year of coaching the team. It was 1998, and he was able to win the championship by a score of 1-0.

This year, he led the Green Team to a 4-2 win against Providence. “The game featured us as the number one seed versus the number two seed, Providence, so it was the best two teams in the state battling it out head to head.”

Another one of Melton’s favorite moments as a coach was coaching his son Kyle to a state championship win his sophomore and senior year.

He expressed how proud he and his family were when Kyle scored the winning goal of the game his sophomore year in 2011, Melton’s 14th year of coaching the team.

After graduating from the University of Illinois at Chicago, Melton’s coaching career began when he was 26 years old.

One of his friends had asked him to be an assistant coach, so in 1993, he started at the Winnetka Hockey Club. Melton enjoyed coaching, and five years later, when the green team coach position opened up at New Trier, he interviewed for it and got the job.

Growing up, Melton said his father was one of the most prominent influences on his activities, including hockey.

He started playing at five years old, and learned how to skate at an outdoor rink in Northfield. He and his friends would play street hockey after school almost every day, which Melton believes is where he learned most of his skills.

From  first to eighth grade, Melton played hockey for the Northbrook Bluehawks; as a freshman in high school, he made Glenbrook North’s varsity team and became the team’s leading scorer. As a sophomore, he played AAA hockey, and as a junior, he played junior A, where he won his first national championship.

Melton played again at Glenbrook North his senior year with his brother, and they won the state championship in 1985.

After high school, Melton played Division 1 level with the UIC Flames. His sophomore year at UIC, he was the ninth leading scorer in the league.

In addition to his father, Melton had two other significant coaches: one in high school and one at the AAA level, which is where he gets his coaching techniques.

“My philosophy is that what you put into the sport, as far as work ethic, you will get out of the sport in the end. There are no shortcuts to being a champion or being the best,” Melton said.

He also acknowledged that in addition to hard work, some kind of luck is necessary along the way. Still, the players who are the most focused and dedicated to the sport are the ones that ultimately succeed.

For others who are interested in becoming a hockey coach, Melton added that the job is enjoyable, but there can be headaches too, especially when it comes to handling parents.

“You have to be able to deal with the 20 different personalities from the players and you can’t treat everyone the same way. You have to find which buttons to push with each player to get the best performance out of them.”

Throughout his coaching career, Melton has been successful in bringing out the best in his teams, but nevertheless said, “something I often stress to the team is to always enjoy the experience and to never let the pressure exceed the pleasure, which is something that I learned from the Cubs’ manager, Joe Maddon.”

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Hockey team’s state win one of many for long-time coach