Mike Bartley won four state titles as Shaker’s hockey coach and is the all-time winningest coach in Ohio high school hockey history.
Now, his son Matt is taking up the mantle.
Matt Bartley has the credentials to take over a prestigious Shaker program. He was the head coach at Hudson High School and was an assistant coach on the 2013 Shaker team that won the state championship. Bartley also played for Shaker when they won a state title in 2001.
Bartley’s knowledge of the program has players excited about his hiring.
“I think Bartley was one of the best candidates, especially since he was a big part of our coaching staff my freshman year when we won states,” junior forward Peter Shick said. “He knows how to win.”
Other players agreed.
“I’m very excited about the hiring of Coach Bartley,” senior goalie Grant Passell said. “He was a major part of our state championship run, and I’m looking forward to him being our full-time head coach.”
Athletic Director Don Readance said Bartley’s experience with the team was a major reason for the hiring.
“Familiarity with the program and knowing the kids were huge factors in the hiring,” Readance said. “He’s a Shaker grad that understands the importance of hockey in this community.”
Readance said Bartley’s connection to former coach Mike Bartley was not the only selling point.
“His experience coaching in Hudson as well as his time at Shaker were the main factors,” Readance said. “If his name was Matt Smith he still would have been hired.”
“The things that he learned from his dad as a head coach probably make him a better coach, but he is a different person, which is what makes him great,” Readance said.
The team is on its third head coach in the past three years, but players haven’t had much trouble adapting to the changes.
“We’ve run the same systems, so nothing major has really changed,” senior defenseman Nathan Christman said.
Passell and Shick also agreed that the transition wasn’t as tough as it seemed because of the similar coaching philosophies and strategies.
“It sounds like it would be hard, and to some extent it is, but the past two coaches after Bartley were previously on the staff in other years assisting Coach Bartley,” Shick said. “So it’s been nice to see familiar faces even though they’re new head coaches.”
“I’m expecting our practices to be run similarly to how they’ve been run in the past,” Passell said. “I think this will be a good thing and help make a smooth transition.”
For Bartley, it’s not about comparisons to his father, but about getting Shaker hockey back to the top.
“I’m not expecting to live up to everything he has done, but I’ve learned enough from him that I’ll be comfortable taking the team over,” Bartley said.
“My goal every year is to win the state title . . . As of right now, every team in Ohio is in the state tournament.”
The team experienced many setbacks last season partly due to changes in coaching staff. However, players maintain high hopes.
“The expectations are always high,” Shick said.“We have a proud tradition that we must uphold every year.”
For Christman, the hiring means a return to what matters most.
“We know what we can do,” Christman said. “I’m just looking forward to playing some hockey.”