Team Pallin – Coach Rob, Dora and Emily
FROM THE BLUE LINE – PRECIOUS MOMENTS
By Lee Samuels
Las Vegas – There we were in church and Emily Charlotte Pallin, age nine months, was getting baptized.
Handwritten invitations had been sent. Las Vegas hockey coach Rob Pallin – now the head coach at TWK HC Innsbruck – was there with his lovely wife Dora, baby Emily Charlotte and dear friends. One friend was Vancouver Dave, parts unknown. Hockey mom Mary Margaret Samuels was there and so were others including hockey dad Greg Yochum, his wife and coach Rob’s sister Blanche all the way from Minnesota.
After picture-taking at the church our group in a caravan of cars went over to celebrate at The Cheesecake Factory on Rampart Blvd here in town.
Sister Blanche got to hockey talk quick. We looked for a pen and some paper. We had no paper so we asked the waiter for some napkins to write on.
Blanche said “did Rob ever tell you about the time he was about 2 years old and his mother put him onto a sled and pulled him to the ice arena. There was a lot of snow and it was like 20 below. The rink was three blocks from our house. Did my brother ever tell you that?”
We said no, then noticed baby Emily was dealing with some issues with baptism gift wrapping paper. It was quite a scene.
Then sister Blanche said Rob years ago got the call which turned his life around.
Rob was spotted playing hockey in a high school tournanment by Frank Serratore who was then the head coach of the USHL Austin Mavericks.
Frank invited Rob to go to a tryout camp.
“But at the time I was big into baseball. I was a pitcher who did very well in high school so I took a pass on the hockey tryout,” Rob said
But Serratore, now the head coach at NCAA Air Force, didn’t give up.
Just then someone – pretty sure it was Blanche – pulled a small brown glass jar of Gerber Oatmeal and Prunes babyfood from a paper bag. Baby Emily was getting excited. She spotted it. Lunch was on the way. One of the hockey Dads groaned as he saw what was happening. He was working on his slab of cherry-covered cheesecake.
Then Blanche said “well, the hockey coach Frank Serratore didn’t give up. He called Rob again.”
This time Rob went to the main camp of the USHL Austin Mavericks.
“Never thought I would even make the team but I went anyway.”
Rob did make the team. He played for two seasons. And while he was playing in games he watched the way Frank Serratore handled the team in the biggest of games – particularly at a finish of a very close intense game.
“I saw his intensity of coaching, the way he worked the lines in a big game, the way he handled us in the closing seconds.
“Everything Frank Serratore said and did stayed with me and is a part of me when I get onto the bench and coach today,” Rob said.
All of that happened many winters ago.
Then coach Rob laughed.
One of the hockey Dads earlier had mistakenly given baby Emily a Raggedy Andy instead of a Raggedy Ann.
Baby Emily, nine month old, didn’t seem to mind at all.
She was the shining star at the table.
And for all of us watching her these were….precious moments.
Seven-time Vegas Hockey Coach of the Year Rob Pallin is now head coach of TWK HC Innsbruck in the Austria Hockey League.