As freshman Liz Sylvia cheered on Saint Anselm classmates at her first men’s hockey game, she had no idea she was about to stumble upon her career calling. “I played volleyball, but all of my friends would support whoever was in season,” she says. “It took two games for me to be completely hooked, and then I went to every game,” she says. “I knew I had to do something with hockey—everyone working for the team was just so excited.”
And do something with hockey she has. As Manager of Hockey Administration for the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, Koharski handles all administrative details and procedures for player, coach and staff contracts, affiliation agreements, immigration, injuries, trades and transfers of players.
In her position, she doesn’t have a typical day and has to be ready for anything. “I might have a quiet day of reviewing expenses planned, but all of sudden a trade might be happening, or it’s game day and one of the players has the flu, so you need to drop what you’re doing and huddle up.”
Getting the job done is nothing new for Koharski, who began her career for the AHL’s Beast of New Haven, Conn. With just 10 people in the office, she did everything from selling tickets to filling in for the regular mascot. “And that wasn’t easy considering I’m 5’2 and the regular mascot was 6’4.”
It wasn’t long before her attention to detail and can-do attitude was noticed, and she was recommended for a position in the AHL’s home office in Springfield,Mass. where she was executive assistant to the president and CEO of the AHL. After the 2004-05 NHL lockout season, Koharski was asked to join the Tampa Bay Lightning, and her dream of joining the NHL became a reality.
She handled the jump to the NHL with ease; and she credits her time at Saint Anselm not only for putting her on her career path, but also teaching her how to thrive at what she does. “The small size of Saint Anselm makes it a family—a small community, and you really have to make those good relationships which is imperative to what I do today,” she says.
While Koharski came to the sport later than most hockey die-hards, she has quickly turned it into a family business: husband Jamie Koharski is a referee for the AHL. Their 7 month-old daughter, Lilly is no stranger to it either. “We had Lilly working her first training camp at two months.”
By Kate Grip