The Jeff Meredith Coaching Tree has sprouted another limb.
T.J. Manastersky, a Fredonia State assistant hockey coach the past three seasons, earlier this week accepted the head coaching post at Curry College in Milton, Mass.
The Colonels are members of NCAA Division III and the ECAC Northeast Conference.
Photo Courtesy of SUNY?Fredonia Athletics
Fredonia State head coach Jeff Meredith, left, and then-assistant coach T.J. Manastersky pose together during team picture day prior to the 2010-11 season. Manastersky became the latest Meredith assistant coach to land a head coaching job when he was named to lead Curry earlier this week.
Manastersky will become by Meredith's count the seventh former Blue Devil assistant coach to move on to another college, as either a head coach or athletic administrator. Meredith also helped a 2012 Fredonia State graduate land a college coaching job.
"I have been fortunate," Meredith said, "that I have had some amazing young guys to work with over the years and, as I see it, my job is to provide them with experiences that will allow them to move on in the profession kind of like a proud father."
The Fredonia State head hockey coach since 1988, Meredith recalled his own start in college hockey coaching as an assistant of Phil Grady, the long-time head coach at Hamilton. "He was," Meredith said of Grady, "a tremendous influence in my career and helping me move on. I learned from him how important it is to keep passing that on."
And passing it on he has. Meredith's list of proteges the past 24 years reads like this:
Brian Dickinson, an assistant coach for five seasons (1988-89 to 1992-93), was the first to move on when he was named head coach at SUNYAC foe Buffalo State before the 1993-94 season.
Dickinson later moved to become head coach at Brockport, another SUNYAC foe, whereupon Jim Fowler took over as Buffalo State's head coach in 1996. A Fredonia State graduate and former Blue Devil, Fowler also assisted Meredith for five seasons (1991-92 to 1995-96).
Current Fredonia State assistant director of athletics Joe Baudo served as Meredith's assistant coach for two seasons (1998-99 and 1999-2000) and then again for one more season (2005-06) in an interim role.
Erik Noack, at Fredonia State in 2001-02, has been the head coach at Johnson & Wales since 2003-04. He is beginning his 10th season in Providence, R.I.
Nick Carriere served behind the Blue Devil bench for three seasons (2002-03 to 2004-05). He succeeded Fowler at Buffalo State when the latter stepped down in 2005 and moved to an athletics administration post. Carriere is beginning his eighth season as Bengal bench boss.
Greg Heffernan succeeded Carriere and worked with Meredith for three seasons (2006-07 to 2008-09) before taking the head job at Western New England, where he is in his fourth season. Heffernan left Fredonia State with a legacy to honor his mother, a breast cancer survivor, he came up with the idea of holding a hockey fundraiser that eventually morphed into Pink The Rink.
Manastersky succeeded Heffernan in 2009 and quickly became part of the fabric of the Fredonia State campus community. In addition to his coaching duties, he taught highly popular classes in the school's Sport Management and Exercise Science department.
In addition, Robert Morris an NCAA Division I program in Pittsburgh recently named 2012 Fredonia State graduate and Blue Devil goaltender Kody Van Rentergem as an assistant coach, yet another college hockey coaching gig Meredith helped to fill.
At Curry, Manastersky will be coaching against Noack and Heffernan, whose teams are also ECAC Northeast members.
"I want to thank (Athletic Director) Greg Prechtl and Jeff Meredith," Manastersky said Friday, "for providing an unbelievable opportunity to grow within the Fredonia State Athletics Department. The time I spent with Coach Meredith over the last three years will not only be a cherished memory, but has also prepared me for the next step in my career. I believe Coach Meredith's track record of moving coaches along speaks for itself, but it's his character and values that are the most impressive."
Meredith feels Curry, a regular NCAA Tournament team, is getting the right coach to help them maintain their national-level status and reach the next level. He said he looks forward to coaching against Manastersky, just as he has coached against several of his former assistants.
"He has done an amazing job here and not only will I miss him as a coach, but will really miss him as a good friend," Meredith the mentor said. "I told him we have to get Curry on the schedule next year and I know he will be working hard to beat us."