Jesse Kallechy has skyrocketed into the coaching scene in minor league hockey. Although he will be entering his fifth season as a coach, Kallechy has already tasted great success.
But Kallechy never thought about the possibility of coaching after his playing career. The Sherwood Park, Alberta native was a goaltender focused on playing professional hockey as long as he could with goals of reaching the NHL, as most hockey players do.
The young goaltender began his professional playing career in 2011 with the Knoxville Ice Bears of the SPHL. Kallechy would spend the majority of his career in the SPHL across multiple teams. After one season with the Ice Bears, Kallechy joined the Pensacola Ice Flyers for a single season, followed by another season with the Louisiana IceGators. Then, he found a home with the Huntsville Havoc for three years, where he would also begin his coaching career.
When the opportunity arose to coach, Kallechy was somewhat surprised. He never truly considered the possibility of continuing his career in hockey as a coach.
“After I finished playing in Huntsville, I was approached by the head coach to see if I would be interested in applying for the assistant coach job,” said Kallechy. “It caught me by surprise, I would not say I was necessarily thinking about coaching. When he approached me about it, I thought about it and it ended up being one of the best decisions I have ever made.”
After spending two seasons as an assistant coach for the Havoc, Kallechy took a job as the head coach of the Fayetteville Marksmen: the worst team in the league. The Marksmen completed the 2017-18 season with a 12-38-0 record.
Kallechy immediately turned the team around. In his first season as head coach, he led the Marksmen to a 25-23-0 record and a playoff appearance. He continued this success in the 2019-20 season with a 31-6-0 record in the regular season. Not only was the team successful, but the players also reaped the benefits, as 25 players were called up to the ECHL in Kallechy’s two seasons. Due to his success, Kallechy was named the SPHL Coach of the Year for the 2019-20 season.
Now, he is looking to climb the professional hockey ladder in a different role. This season will serve as a great opportunity for Kallechy to learn and grow under the guidance of Brad Ralph.
“Brad had a lot of good options and good candidates,” said Kallechy. “When he called me and gave me the news I was excited. I’m happy for a new challenge and to learn from, in my opinion, the best coach in the ECHL. It’s a great stepping stone for me to work under someone like Brad and to come to such a great organization.”
As with any job, it is difficult to join a new team and coaching staff, especially when it is an organization as successful as the Florida Everblades. For Kallechy, it is a matter of finding how he can fit into this great success.
One major way he can contribute is through his youthful perspective. The 30 year-old plans to use this relatability to his advantage. Kallechy said, “I am a younger guy, so I can certainly relate to the players, especially having not played so long ago.”
Similar to Ralph, Kallechy specifically emphasizes the importance of player development, especially at the ECHL level. Kallechy believes the best attribute he can bring to the team is communicating with the players to help them grow and move onto the next levels.
“Ultimately, it’s about the players and making sure that they are getting better and putting them in a position to succeed,” said Kallechy. “I think it is important to have open communication with the player to find out what they need to make themselves better.”
This season, the players and coaches will face a different set of challenges that they have not faced before. However challenging it may be, this season provides a great opportunity for Kallechy to take the next steps in his coaching career.
Once looking to climb the hockey ladder as a player, Kallechy may now have a chance to do so from behind the bench.