Adam Pawlick has an interesting past.
Originally from Whitesboro (NY), prior to joining the Comets' staff this past fall, Pawlick played three seasons professionally for the Pensacola Ice Flyers hockey team.
Stepping away from skating (after winning a championship), transitioning to "civilian" life and having his number retired last month, Pawlick makes for a fascinating conversation.
Q: Your title is corporate fulfillment manager for the Comets. What is included in the scope of your responsibilities?
A: I work with our Executive Vice President of Corporate Partnerships (Lisa A. della Santina-Wilsey), in making sure our sponsors at getting what they should; t-shirt giveaways, in-game videos. We want to make sure that they are happy.
Q: Coming to your position straight as a player in the Southern Professional Hockey League, what part of your position is most challenging?
A: A whole bunch of things. Learning game day operations and how the business end of the team works; stuff I didn't think of as a player. I think about the signs (in The AUD) and on the boards. I'm interested in this side of the business. We have an incredibly creative staff. Since we aren't a large staff, everyone has a hand in different things. Everyone pitches in to the task at hand.
Q: Last year at this time, what were your plans for life after playing hockey?
A: I really had no idea on what I was going to do. This (Comets position) is a blessing. I talked with some players that moved on and worked full-time jobs. I have a great position now. Like Pat Conacher (Comets Director of Hockey Operations) says, "It's great when you get to come to the rink every day." Now, I come to the rink and the office each day.
Q: Your three professional seasons with the Ice Flyers couldn't have gone any better than they did. How do you reflect on them?
A: My three seasons, I can sum up with a storybook ending. I couldn't have imagined having so much fun playing hockey. Never once did the game put me in a bad mood. It was fun to be a leader and contributor for my team.
(In three seasons, Pawlick accomplished the following: skating in 56 games each season (never missing a game), collecting 169 points in 168 regular season games, being named an All-SPHL first team All-Star, leading the league in scoring, winning two Presidents Cup championships, one of which he captained.)
Q: On March 31, 2017, the Ice Flyers retired your number 25. Did your family give you any tips on how to get through your acceptance speech?
A: They did. Before I went out on the ice, I was nervous. My dad said just be yourself; we're proud of you. My wife kept me calm. Rachel was with me the whole time I was in Pensacola. We dated in college and Rachel was down there (Pensacola) for two seasons.
Q: What were the bus trips like for you in the SPHL?
A: The longest trip was to Peoria (IL)- (890 miles one way) 15 hours. The closest trip was to Biloxi (MS), about two and a half hours. Lafayette (LA) was around three and a half hours. Most of our trips were in the five to seven-hour range. Fayetteville (NC) was 12 hours, with the time change. Mostly we played cards in the back of the bus and watched movies. I never saw the trips as a grind. I always found a way to enjoy the time.
Q: After two President Cups, how were you able to step away from the game in your prime?
A: After winning the Cup in my first year, I decided that I'd come back for one more year. I was determined to enjoy my last season. The team had a good year so I wanted to come back for one more. I gave the ECHL a try and was cut in training camp by Fort Wayne (Komets). Halfway through the season, I knew that I wanted to start thinking about life after hockey. It was a hard decision but necessary. My wife had put her career on hold for me.
Q: Four years playing Division-1 hockey at Clarkson – how did you recognize your growth as an athlete?
A: College hockey is a different animal than juniors or prep. I learned how to play a two-way game. Rosters were deep. The team and competition keeps you honest.
Q: You have a bachelor's degree in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. How have you incorporated your education with the Comets?
A: I get to see a different side of the business aspect of (Comets organization) how a team operates.
Q: You're involved with the Comets' youth hockey program. How does the coaching hat fit?
A: I enjoy coaching. Rob (Comets president Robert Esche) and I coached seven Jr. Comet players in the Annual Pee-Wee International Hockey Tournament in Quebec City this past February. That was a lot of fun. We were there for 10 days. That's a tournament that I had heard about; being the best there is.
Q: What's the atmosphere like at The Hangar (Pensacola Bay Center) for Ice Flyers games?
A: The noise level is not like here (The AUD). It's a bigger building (8,000 seats). In Pensacola, most of the fans are with the Navy, and come from the north. I liked playing in front of them. The Ice Flyers have a tight hockey family. Fans there put their heart and soul into the team, just like in Utica.
Q: How did you decompress from no longer being a player?
A: I avoided the rink all last summer. That was the first time in 15 years that I didn't touch ice during the summer. It was tough for me last October, when my friends were back beginning their season.
Q: When was the last time you had your skates on?
A: Last Thursday. I am coaching for the Comets' combine. I helped set it up.
Q: If you could have one more game, where and with who are you doing it?
A: In Pensacola with Corey Banfield. He's wearing the "C" this year. We started the same time and are best of friends. We lived together one year.