Austin Ansay transitions from player to coach

Ryan Loberger

There’s a saying in the sports world that athletes die twice, they die when they retire from the sport and they die when they die. Austin Ansay, a former member of the Colorado State men’s hockey team, can attest to this philosophy.

”It’s definitely tough at first but it gets easier as time moves on,” Ansay said. “But not that easy.” 

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Since his ACHA eligibility ended in December, Ansay has made the transition to coaching on the men’s team, helping at practices and home games.

“He was helping out when we had our home-stand last weekend and he’s been asking me how long it took me to get over not playing,” said Assistant Coach Jameson Wicks. “You can tell he’s still gritting his teeth on the bench, he misses being out there.”

Forward Austin Ansay skates past two Buffs players during the Center Ice Showdown at the Pepsi Center on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. The Rams were down 2-0 in the second period. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

Wicks, also a former member of the men’s team, had some advice for Ansay during the transition. Wicks cites staying close to the sport in the form of volunteering or coaching to help mend the withdrawal that comes with retirement.

“I told him that’s why I’m still involved with the team,” Wicks said. “It’s because I still love being a part of it and it’s something that’s a huge part of my life. It took me a while to get over it too, we’re all competitive and it’s hard to step away from it when you’re done.”

Ansay’s career began at age five and on a roller hockey rink rather than on ice.

“I played competitive roller hockey until I was about 10 years old, then I made the choice to transition to ice hockey,” Ansay said. “I played with the Jr. Pioneers then transitioned to the Arapahoe Ice Warriors around 8th grade. I was gonna go to juniors but I had offers fall through, luckily I got accepted to CSU and found out they had a club hockey team and they were good.”

Ansay first joined the men’s team in 2014, and unlike most players who elect to play junior hockey during or after high school, Ansay was a true freshman when he joined the team.

“At that point, I was young because most of the guys play juniors,” Ansay said. “But after my first year on the team I really developed and became a better player.” 

Career Stats:

GP – 139

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G  – 42

A  – 35

PIM- 185

Ansay would become a leader and a top forward on the team during his playing days, with his best season coming with what everyone believed to be his senior year, scoring 27 points in 39 contests during the 2017-2018 season. Ansay would soon find out that he had another semester of eligibility remaining in the fall of the 2018-2019 season.

“We just kinda stumbled across it and it was a very pleasant surprise,” said Mark Schermerhorn of CSU hockey operations.

After playing in the fall, Ansay would end his career Dec. 2 at Pepsi Center in a rivalry game against CU. The Rams would fall 8-3 in the contest with Ansay scoring two goals in the loss.

Austin Ansay battles a University of Colorado defender as he looks to score during the Ram’s game against the Buffs at Pepsi Center Dec. 2, 2018. The Rams fell to the Buffs 8-3. (Devin Cornelius | Collegian)

Although Ansay is no longer on the ice and is still adjusting to his new role, he seems to have found a new outlook as a coach.

It’s pretty much unheard of in sports for a player to finish his career and immediately be coaching as a member of the same team.  Ansay has found a more laid back approach helps when coaching his former teammates.

“I found it’s not really my place to yell and get in their face, but I can give critical feedback and advice,” Ansay said. “Now I realize that as a player and a coach you see things a lot differently.”

While his career has drawn to a close, Ansay can now reflect on his next step in life, currently working at Brinkman & Brinkman Construction in Fort Collins as a Project Engineer. As a coach, Ansay is happy with his choice to stay close to the game rather than walk away from it.

“I have friends that ended up walking away from hockey when they stopped playing and they tell me how much they miss it now,” Ansay said. “Even though I’m not playing games it’s just nice to help out and be at the rink and around the team.”

Ryan Loberger can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @LobergerRyan.