The MTSU Blue Raider hockey team got its guy. Months after the team parted ways with former coach Jasen Riherd, the Blue Raiders named Tim Rathert the team’s next head coach.
“It sort of came about as a surprise, I really hadn’t anticipated jumping back in,” Rathert said. “I had been referred by a number of folks to MTSU. I didn’t really have any interest in initially pursuing it, but it worked out great. I had a great interview.”
Rathert comes to MTSU having spent the last 19 years coaching the Hendersonville-Station Camp-Beech co-op team in the Greater Nashville Area Scholastic Hockey (GNASH) league, and has 25 years of coaching experience overall, including his time with the Nashville Youth Hockey League (1995-2011) and the Nashville Jr. Predators travel team (2012-2014).
“I think the transition will be okay,” he said. “Coaching the high school kids the last couple of years, most of our practices have been geared toward pro and college-style practice plans. Obviously, the tempo and the skill level is considerably different, but I see a lot of that being able to translate really well and hopefully even improve as we push in further. I don’t see it as a dramatic change because I feel I’ve really been pushing the envelope with the kids I coach.”
Three of Rathert’s four children attend or have attended MTSU with his son Jaxon, who played under his dad on the Hendersonville-Station Camp-Beech team, joining the Blue Raider hockey team next season as an incoming freshman.
“I enjoyed coaching the high school team a lot,” Rathert stated. “I felt like my goal was when Jaxon graduated, it was going to be my last year of coaching youth hockey. So, I had sent that benchmark and decided it was time for me to move on. If I was going to do something else, I was going to take on a different challenge. I had some great years coaching a lot of great kids.”
Rathert takes over an MTSU team heading into its first season in the South Eastern Collegiate Hockey Conference (SECHC), joining the West division with Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Ole Miss and the University of Alabama Huntsville.
“I think it’s awesome and exciting,” Rathert said. “It adds a whole new element of fun for the kids that have been there at MTSU and are returning, but for me what a great challenge that is. The kind of rivalries that you’re walking into from Day 1 and the level of competition should be awesome.
“It gives us a great challenge. I know MTSU really competed with some of those teams, and I hope that I can help them achieve some of the goals as far as what the team is looking for going forward. The SEC is noted for great competition in a lot of sports, and I think it’s exciting that MTSU gets to compete against some of those programs.
“Coach Rathert brings with him a new era of MT Hockey, starting from within,” added MTSU captain Nathanael Wilson. “It’s going to be a new, exciting team that I know will produce results on and off the ice. I believe Tim will bring his ‘A’ game every single day when it comes to the program, and he will help take this club to the next step that all the guys are wanting to make. I’m beyond excited and looking forward to this season; I believe it’ll be one of the best ones yet.”