Tim Whitehead has experienced the full spectrum of hockey as a player and coach — preps, colleges, pros — and is enjoying a stellar run as head coach at New England prep school power Kimball Union Academy, which won its third consecutive NEPSAC Elite 8 tournament this season. A standout player at Hamilton College and former head coach of the Maine Black Bears — and winner of the 2002 Spencer Penrose Trophy as Division 1 National Coach of the Year — Whitehead sat down recently with New England Hockey Journal to discuss the inner workings of prep school hockey and other topics.
New England Hockey Journal: You were hired at Kimball Union Academy back in 2013. Some people look ahead and have a plan. Some people take it day by day. When you went there in 2013, could you have imagined, A, being there this long, and B, having this much success?
Tim Whitehead: Yes and no. We didn’t know for sure, but my wife, Dena, and I were excited about making this type of move, to a great school where our kids could get their education paid for and most importantly, have a great experience. My wife also was starting a second career in teaching, and she loves working at the public schools, and she’s had an opportunity to do that. At that point, we said, “Let’s see how it goes for a couple of years and if we are enjoying it, and most importantly, if the kids are having a great experience and getting a great education, then let’s keep going with it.” Likewise with her job. She used to be the head athletic trainer at UMass Dartmouth before we had kids. We were happy here. It wasn’t perfect, but our kids were getting a great education so we decided to stay, then we bought a house a couple of years ago, so we’re feeling pretty good where things are at and excited to keep moving forward.
NEHJ: From a hockey perspective, how much did it change for you right away? How difficult was it going from high-level college to high-level prep?