Skating Into the Future:
By: Taylor Hill @TaylorHill2206
In the realm of ice hockey, Christian Long, head coach of Florida Atlantic University, transcends borders and boundaries. His journey is a testament to the global reach of the sport and his commitment to nurturing young talent, not just in the United States.
From the arenas of China to Italy, Long has crisscrossed the globe, leaving an indelible mark on the hockey landscape.
Long grew up with a father deeply involved in playing and coaching hockey, and a grandfather who forged connections with Boston Bruins players, establishing his deep roots in the sport.
Starting his own hockey journey at the age of four, Long progressed, not only as a player but as a mentor.
"I never thought I would go into [hockey] full time," said Long.
In his early days, Long coached younger teams starting at the age of 17. He participated in tournament teams throughout college and won the pre-draft showcase in Boston against 80 teams. Long credited his success to his upbringing around strong coaches and a strong support system.
College Hockey South Commissioner Kyle Knell (left) presenting the Buffalo Wild Wings Most Valuable Coach box to FAU Head Coach Christian Long (right) for winning the Battle at the Beach tournament.
After graduating from Colgate University with a degree in Economics and Sociology, Long's trajectory took an international turn when he began working as a Private Equity Analyst for Excelsior in Asia.
Balancing corporate responsibilities with his passion for hockey, he played for one of the four China Ice Hockey Teams. Hockey rinks in Asia were located in odd places, such as the fourth floor of a mall.
Long's involvement in the China Ice Hockey League extended beyond playing as well; he served as the community relations manager, contributing to initiatives for both men's and women's teams. Embracing diversity, the league comprised players from various corners of the world, showcasing the global appeal of the sport.
Long eventually returned to the United States and assumed the role of assistant coach for FAU, forging connections that would shape his coaching philosophy.
His leadership journey reached new heights as he led Team North America Select to the Bauer World Cup in Aosta, Italy, securing a silver medal with a diverse roster hailing from Canada, Germany, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.
"Coming together within such a short time frame, especially in a foreign country, was heartening," said Long.
Navigating the challenges of a demanding schedule, Long's coaching acumen has propelled FAU to the top of the College Hockey South D2 power rankings. Despite the chaos of managing a large roster, he remains dedicated to fostering open communication and collaboration among the coaching staff.
For Long, coaching extends beyond the ice; it's about comprehending the intricacies of each player's experience.
"You have a better understanding of what different guys are going through and scenarios," said Long, underscoring the collaborative spirit that defines his coaching approach.
Guiding his team through a successful season, his unique blend of experiences as a player and coach continues to shape FAU's journey on the ice.
ABOUT College Hockey South: Founded in 2008, College Hockey South is a 25-school, 38 team intercollegiate hockey conference spanning seven southeastern U.S. states that competes in AAU College Hockey. College Hockey South is a 501(c)3 not for profit organization.