UTICA, N.Y. — Gary Heenan, just one week after accepting the job, has resigned as an assistant coach at Union to return as head coach at Utica College.
Gary began his duties as assistant coach at Union College at the beginning of this week and he decided that Union was not the right fit. Head coach Nate Leaman said he will resume the search for his assistant coach immediately.
“We have a strong pool of candidates, and I’m confident that we’ll identify an individual that will assist in achieving the overall goals of the Department, the College, and the Program,” said Leaman.
Heenan meanwhile appears to have had a change of heart after leaving the Utica program.
“It was just a gut feeling thing,” said Heenan. “I really have a good situtation in Utica. My personal life is really solid here. It was those relationships, as well as the relationship with my players, the program, the college, and the city that said Utica is my home.
“Obviously, Union thought that they had their guy. I honestly have the utmost respect for coach Leaman down there, and he was someone that I could learn a lot from. I stand by that. They were understanding to my passion to Utica hockey. It is an unfortunate situation, but one that I am happy with in the end result.”
Heenan will return to coach Utica and hope that not a lot has changed in just one week.
Utica graduated 13 seniors last spring, their first class. Prior to Monday, Heenan had 10-plus new recruits lined up to come to school this fall. Immediately after the announcment Monday, two said they were going elsewhere. As the week went on, several others said they were rethinking their plans for the fall.
“The last thing I wanted after putting so much work into it was to see it falter somewhat,” said Heenan. “When I had heard recruits were changing their mind, with the large class, I thought that those were my guys too. So, I just care so much about the program, that I need to see it do well.
“I’m already back into it. I have already talked to all those recruits, and they are back coming to Utica. And we are going to go win hockey games.
“It is a unique situation at this level. I’m learning a lot more about that. We get treated very well here as a program. The college has always taken care of me. It just didn’t seem right personally.
“The college said the would love to have me back. They said ‘you’ve done us proud. You’re our coach, and we would love you to always be our coach’.”