Western Springs native Courtney Mahoney is called "The Maestro" by her colleagues at the Chicago Wolves hockey club.
The moniker is used particularly by Gene Ubriaco, the Wolves' Director of Hockey Operations and the team's first coach.
"She's like an orchestra conductor," he says.
As the Western Springs native prepares for Game Day one Sunday afternoon, Mahoney, the team's vice president of operations, is exuberant, and in perpetual motion.
During our conversation, Wolves personnel constantly stop by to ask questions, which she always answers with a smile. It's clear that Mahoney is a respected leader here. She moves with confidence and efficiency as she tests the mammoth sound board in the first balcony of Allstate Arena, her home away from home during the season from October-April. Her hours on the job can stretch from 9 a.m. to past midnight.
"Getting paid to watch hockey and give money to charities is a pretty sweet life," she says with a grin.
Mahoney's enthusiasm and youthful appearance at age 38 belie the fact that she's spent nearly half her life working for the Wolves, who are celebrating their 20th season in 2013-14.
Beginning as an intern in 1996, she's seen the Wolves clinch four championships in two leagues and enjoy 19 straight winning seasons, more than any other professional sports team in Chicago.
"Courtney is a great ambassador for the Wolves," said Mike Gordon, president of business operations for the Wolves. "And because she's been here (so long) a team historian. "
As vice president of operations, Mahoney wears many hats for the Wolves, the minor-league affiliate of the St. Louis Blues.
Beginning as an intern in 1996, she's become, as Lindsey Wilhite, director of public relations, says, "the woman who makes it all run (smoothly.)"
If, for example, you're at a Wolves game and hear a few bars of "Let's Hear It for the Boy," from "Footloose" it's a sure sign that right winger Mike Davies is on the ice.
But the Maestro's job ranges far and wide. Mahoney is the one who has shepherded young Wolves through the intricacies of Chicago traffic patterns. She's the one who makes sure they arrive at appearances on time.
She's also a passionate advocate for countless Chicago-area nonprofits, creating partnerships and events that include Adopt-A-Pet Nights, Breast Cancer Awareness Nights, Out for Blood With the Wolves with Lifesource, and the Wolves' own Read to Succeed program. Over the years, she's raised more than $4 million for Chicago Wolves Charities.
Mahoney, a graduate of Lyons Township High School, may not be as well known as LTHS grads David "Baywatch" or "Knight Rider" Hasselhoff or Phoenix Suns coach Jeff Hornacek, but she is making her own claim to fame as the highest ranking woman in the Wolves organization in the male-dominated world of minor league hockey.
From babysitting players' children to spearheading the Chicago Wolves Charities, she has been recognized with the American Hockey League's highest honor, the Ken McKenzie Award for best promotional experience in 2009.
Her passion for the game, though, was built over time.
"I was athletic all through high school, but I wasn't passionate about hockey til I came to the Wolves," she confesses. "What I loved was the team's family-oriented fun. "
Mahoney is modest about her accomplishments, giving credit to the Wolves organization for their commitment to family fun and charity, and for providing her with opportunities.
But Ubriaco is blunt about Mahoney's impact on the team.
"She's the reason we win," he said.
Mahoney is planning several Read to Succeed programs in the Desplaines Valley area over the winter.
For more information, visit the team's website www.chicagowolves.com.
NOTE: This post originally appeared in the Des Plaines Valley News
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