Vaillancourt back in the game as voice of UNO hockey

When family priorities led Mike Vaillancourt to step down after six seasons as the voice of Clarkson University hockey, he wondered if he would ever again broadcast his favorite sport. Three years later, the answer to his question is a resounding yes. Vaillancourt is the new voice at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

He can hardly be more excited. “UNO is all-in on hockey,” Vaillancourt gushes. “The administration is very dedicated to the success of the program, which is a focal point in the community. The Mavs were 4th in the nation in attendance last season and the people in Omaha love their team.”

Weighing the options

UNO was one of three options for Vaillancourt. Together with his wife Hillary, Vaillancourt carefully weighed all three. “We each took time to research each individually and together, and Omaha was the top choice for several reasons. She was very excited that Omaha came through.”

Fortuitous timing started the ball rolling for Vaillancourt at UNO. He cold-contacted the athletic department, not knowing there was an opening. Vaillancourt picks up the story from there. “Fast-forward two months. I let my coach at Clarkson know what all has been happening and he made a call to [UNO’s AD for hockey] without my asking.” Vaillancourt then adds with a grin, “Lesson: always be in good with coach. A few days later, I had my first interview, followed by a panel and a phone conversation with the color analyst.”

Vaillancourt also had some inside help. “UNO’s equipment manager and I were road roommates at Clarkson for a season. So, there is a familiarity walking in. He gave me a great reference without my knowledge.”

Relevant relationships

Maintaining good relationships with Clarkson’s coaches after he left was important in Vaillancourt advancing his career. “It was my choice to leave in support of other family needs, but I remained in constant conversations with the coaches. When my wife said it was okay to get back to hockey, they helped a ton, even making calls to programs on my behalf without my asking. It’s so, so important to develop and keep great relationships with your coaches and administrators if you cover a team.”

Vaillancourt first joined STAA in 2014. “For me, STAA is about community. We can all learn from each other whether it’s sharing spot charts, collectively trying to solve tech issues, or handling tough challenges with relationships. Being with STAA allows us, who often compete for the same jobs a way, to help each other and make each other better.”

Leaving Clarkson was difficult for Vaillancourt. Fear of the unknown made it worse. “I was frustrated that I may have left behind my first love in hockey and might not have a chance to return. But, by keeping good relationships and networking, doors opened.”

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