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11/24/2022 12:17 PM

Thibault Trail Blazing as Pioneers’ Hockey Director at SHU

Class of 2015 Guilford High School graduate and former Guilford boys’ ice hockey team manager Jessica Thibault has continued her passion for the ice, now sitting as the Director of Hockey Operations for Sacred Heart University. Photo courtesy of Jessica Thibault

Jessica Thibault grew up in Guilford surrounded by ice, traveling from rink to rink. It was that puck upbringing that smoothed the path toward her working up to one of the highest priority jobs within an NCAA Division I ice hockey program.

Jessica, a Class of 2015 Guilford High School graduate, was one of four kids in her family with her remaining three siblings, all brothers, having played for the Guilford boys’ ice hockey team. Through those familial fronts, Jessica was asked to help out with the Grizzlies and became the team’s manager for her junior and senior years.

From there, she traversed to Quinnipiac University in Hamden and was a student manager and director of hockey operations graduate assistant within their hockey ranks. Following grad school, she traveled westward down I-95 to Sacred Heart University, where she now sits as the Pioneers’ Director of Hockey Operations.

“I spent a lot of my childhood in rinks. I just always loved being on the sidelines and watching my brothers play,” says Jessica, who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Management from Quinnipiac and a Master’s in Business Administration. “This position was a major goal of mine. I loved my job as manager at Quinnipiac, and I loved working with their director. This is something I always wanted to do. It took a lot of time and sacrifice to make connections, so I am grateful to now have this position.”

Having a vast depth of knowledge and experience at two tiers of the ice, Jessica notes that while the size of athletic arenas between the pair may vary, the electricity and energy is something that the pro ranks simply cannot match.

“I think anyone would agree that high school and collegiate sports have a more family feel when compared to professional sports,” Jessica says. “There is always such a pride and atmosphere behind the high school and college games; there is great emotion behind them. It is the same game at its core, but I find those similar aspects from high school hockey in college, it’s just on a bigger stage.”

From concentrating on game film to coordinating flights and even meals, there is never a dull moment for Jessica. She is never one to complain through the hustle and bustle, though, as it keeps things fresh.

“I enjoy the fact that every day for me with this job is different,” says Jessica. “At the beginning of the week, it is video heavy with scouting, looking at film of the next opponent, and film of our games from the prior weekend. The middle of the week might be more dealing with setting up travel, meal planning, and logistics for the team. There is always something different each day, which is nice.”

As Jessica reflects on her managerial formation through her Guilford tenure, she looks back to the fondest moments and memories of the Grizzlies experiencing those clutch postseason triumphs.

“Being on the team, especially with my brothers, I experienced the highs and lows of a high school hockey season with them,” Jessica says. “One of my favorite parts about my time with Guilford was winning playoff games, which was made more special with family being there.”

Guilford boys’ ice hockey Head Coach Ralph Russo is filled with pride to see how far Jessica has come within the game and her personal goals while anticipating how much further she can go.

“It’s great to see Jessica play an important role in advancing the college hockey scene in Connecticut,” says Russo. “As a Guilford High School student and manager of the team, Jessica demonstrated extraordinary organizational skills and dedication to her work. We are looking forward to seeing her contribute to the growth of Sacred Heart’s successful NCAA D-I program.”

There is of course one more rung up the ladder Jessica has not yet laid her eyes upon–certainly one of her future aspirations. Yet regardless of what path she eventually takes, Jessica is proud to be a Pioneer.

“It’s funny because this job was my goal, and now that I am living it, I start thinking what is next,” Jessica says. “I would love to stay and grow with Sacred Heart, because there are so many exciting things happening here. I am exploring any and all options, including semi-professional or professional teams. It is something I would love to pursue.”