USA Hockey Magazine

November 2013

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INTO THE WILD BLUE YO N D E R Retired Air Force One Pilot Mark Manney Is Still Flying High As A High School Hockey Coach BY JESS MYERS fter a career in the United States military, and many years spent ferrying American presidents around the nation and the globe at the controls of Air Force One, one would think that Mark Manney would have stared down every challenge imaginable. Instead, after retiring from the armed forces, Manney grabbed a whistle and took his place behind the bench at a hockey rink. And that's when the true challenges began. Almost a decade ago, USA Hockey Magazine profiled Manney when he was part of the eight-man crew of pilots charged with getting the world's most powerful leader safely from place to place aboard the legendary aircraft. Today, living in his native Minnesota, Manney finds that life as a high school hockey coach is, in many ways, more challenging than anything he's experienced before. "Being a hockey coach is a lot tougher [than flying Air Force One], and that may be hard for some people to understand," said Manney after concluding another three-hour coaching session on the ice. "As a pilot you train constantly for every possible scenario. But in hockey you cannot map out all the different things that could happen in a hockey game." After playing youth and high school hockey in northern Minnesota, Manney went to the U.S. Air Force Academy where he played hockey and eventually learned to fly, then worked his way up the ranks to the point where he spent six years flying Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. He retired not long after the 2004 elections, and volunteered with the youth hockey association in Bowie, Md., as a coach and board member for a few years before returning to his home state in 2007. With his son Nick on the Andover Peewee team, Manney spent one full season enjoying just being a fan again. "I sat in the stands and didn't say anything and didn't let anyone know I had even played hockey before," he said. But when his son's coaches came under fire from a vocal group of parents, Manney was persuaded to help out behind the bench. Mirroring his rise through the ranks in the Air Force, within two 24 NOVEMBER.2013 USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM MIGHTY WING MAN Retired Air Force One pilot and current high school hockey coach Mark Manney shows off an enlarged copy of the USA Hockey Magazine cover he appeared on nine years ago. years Manney was working with Andover's high school program. This winter will be in his fifth season as the Huskies' head coach. "He's a guy with a huge hockey IQ, yet he never stops learning," said Craig Perry, an associate director with the Minnesota State High School League, and an Andover hockey dad. "Mark has a good vision, in that he can see where we need to go, but he also knows where we are right now." Although, with nearly as many hockey arenas as lakes spread all across Minnesota, finding out where Manney is at any given moment can be a challenge. Even in official retirement, his schedule rivals that of an Air Force pilot hopscotching the country while flying the president from one stop to another. He works at the local high school, serves as the coach-in-chief for his Minnesota district, commonly spends four hours a day, seven days a week, on the ice working with youth hockey players, and in his "spare time" has been known to drive hundreds of miles to help with USA Hockey coaching certification clinics. PHOTOS BY Jim Rosvold

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