You have witnessed the Coachella Valley Firebirds on the ice fighting for the Calder Cup in the franchise’s first ever season, but there are some team players we haven’t heard from this year.
The equipment manager Shawn Thorns will go down in history as a staff member in the first group of CV Firebird employees. In an interview with the NHL, Thorns stated his goal is to make it to the NHL. The only cup bigger than the Calder Cup is the Stanley Cup; Thorne is one step closer to reaching his goal while working in the AHL. He is traveling with the team in Milwaukee as they have faced the Admirals; Thorns is there for every game and every plane; he is working long shifts with professionalism and effectiveness.
News Channel 3: How does it feel to be a part of an organization that is so close to possibly winning the Calder Cup?
Shawn Thorns: it’s a great feeling knowing we put in all the work going into this. You know, because we started off in Seattle for two months, we didn’t have a home game. Every game felt like an away game. And then once we got down to the valley, everything just started falling in place. And it makes all your hard work and dedication for the season feel like it’s an accomplishment for everyone.
News Channel 3: What excites you about the journey of being in the AHL and possibly being the first African-American NHL equipment manager?
Shawn Thorns: I just want to be the first of many I don’t want to be, I don’t want to be seen as the only one. I want someone to see me and try to pursue a career as well.
He noticed there were not many people that looked like him in the AHL and the NHL. “I want someone to see me and try to pursue a career as well. And like, just be a trailblazer in the industry for everyone, not just people of color, but for everyone else in the world.”
Thorns is not new to hockey. He got his break into professional hockey after a devastating knee injury in his teens playing as a goalie.
He had to make a pivot in his career. Thorns was on crutches and saddened about not being able to play, so his friend, that was an equipment manager for the South Carolina Stingrays, told Thorns to come down and do some work with him instead of being bored in the house.
Thorns soared in the industry and fell in love with day to day responsibilities of the equipment team.
He drove from Charleston, South Carolina, to Seattle, Washington, to continue his journey working in the professional hockey field. He is still climbing the ladder, but so far, he says he is loving the desert, the dry heat, and the energy the fans give on every game day.