Hockey journey is all about growth for RMU’s Golightly

By DJ Powers

Chase Golightly - Robert Morris University

Photo: Robert Morris University sophomore defenseman Chase Golightly and his Colonials’ teammates had a breakthrough season, but that school’s season has come to an end after a 7-3 loss to the University of Minnesota in the NCAA Tournament (courtesy of Robert Morris University)

Robert Morris University sophomore defenseman Chase Golightly’s hockey travels have taken him to quite a few places. But his greatest journey is on the developmental path he began traveling many years ago in Southern California.

Golightly hails from Temecula, a town roughly 60 miles northeast of San Diego. He spent much of his latter youth days, including his first year at the U18 Midget Major level, playing for the California Wave under the tutelage of longtime head coach Mike Lewis. Lewis’s list of former players that have successfully gone on to the collegiate ranks is extensive. As Golightly explains, Lewis helped establish the foundation that his hockey career would be built on.

“He definitely helped me develop my fundamental skills,” said Golightly of his former coach. “Being an undersized defenseman, I had to really find my niche in hockey and so he helped me hone my skills in becoming a solid defender while at the same time having some offensive threat and knowing when to jump into the play. Mike really helped me identify myself as a player.”

Golightly left the Wave in 2009 to join the Los Angeles Junior Kings U18 squad. There he played for Jack Bowkus, another California youth head coach with a long track record of successfully moving players to the next level.

“He helped me prepare for my Junior A and college career,” Golightly said of Bowkus. “He helped me understand how to deal with adversity and get mentally stronger. Jack also helped me polish my game more, too.”

Golightly left California in 2010 and headed to British Columbia, where he spent nearly two seasons with the BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings. During this time, Golightly was attracting the attention of collegiate scouts, including those from Robert Morris University. In 2012, he committed to play for the Colonials.

“I did a quite a bit of research on the team and saw that every year they were getting better and getting better recruits, as well,” said Golightly. “I saw that the team had a large freshman class coming in, that included myself and I knew that I’d be able to build a lot of chemistry with these guys. I thought that we’d be able to do something special in our four years together here. I think being here in the NCAA Tournament for the first time is a testament to that. So just being able to have that opportunity to jump in and get started right away was what drew me to RMU.”

During his youth days with the Wave and the Junior Kings, Golightly established himself as an offensive-minded defenseman. When he arrived at Robert Morris University in the fall of 2012, that would change.

“When I came to RMU, I had to adjust my role because I had to play much more of a defensive game so that I wouldn’t be a liability or see my ice time limited,” stated Golightly. “I wanted to make sure that I was in the lineup as much as possible and getting that playing experience.”

Golightly gives most of the credit to Mike Lewis and Robert Morris head coach Derek Schooley for molding him into the player that he is developing into. While both coaches have some similarities in their coaching styles, they also have very distinct differences. As Golightly notes, the greatest difference is in their areas of emphasis.

“Mike Lewis has definitely emphasized being more offensive,” said Golightly. “With Coach Schooley, it’s a different type of game and he makes sure that I’m playing defense first and if I have the (offensive) opportunities, I should identify them before jumping into the play. I think Mike Lewis has helped me establish a strong foundation and Derek Schooley has helped me to build on that.”

The offensive side of Golightly’s game that was so prevalent in his California youth days has begun to surface again this season. But now, he plays a more intelligent game that is continually maturing.

“For me, it’s been about learning what they (coaches) expect and what basic requirements that you need to cover,” explained Golightly. “Once you have those in place, then it’s just building your game from there, slowly adding the other pieces. I think all of that has helped me build towards being able to play a more complete game and being happy with what I’m doing. I think being a sophomore and having that year under my belt also helps because there isn’t that pressure that I had as a freshman. Being able to have a bit of freedom to try different things and see if they work or not has also definitely helped me grow into my (current) role, as well.”

Golightly has played in all but one of RMU's games to date. His 14 points (three goals, 11 assists) are nearly double his freshman total. Golightly has also seen time on the Colonials power play, where two of his three goals have been scored.

Although Golightly is still relatively raw, he does have the potential to play pro hockey one day. While his size (5’10”, 180 lbs.) may dissuade some pro teams from taking a look at him, his great skill set and skating ability will make it difficult for others to ignore. But all of this is contingent on Golightly’s continued development.

Over the years, Chase Golightly has received lots of hockey advice, particularly when it comes to being able to move to the next level. So what kind of advice would he give a California youngster hoping to get to where he is one day?

“I would tell them that you definitely have to be committed and you have to love the game because it’s going to take a lot of hard work,” stated Golightly. “There will definitely be lows and highs, so you just have to consistently work hard at it. I would also tell them to find what you’re good at, find your strengths, and really hone those skills. There are lots of people playing hockey everywhere, so you definitely have to be able to try and set yourself apart from them.”

Follow DJ Powers on Twitter via @DJPowersHF