FOLLOWING THE FLOW: LEO IABONI
Former Mullets Goaltender Accepted to Grad School at Michigan
BY: Dan Bradley
MINNEAPOLIS -- "Once you’re a part of the Mullet family, you’re a Mullet for life.” This mantra, repeated around the Minnesota Mullets dressing room, rings true even as the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed the hockey universe to a halt. While no one knows when hockey teams will be able to return to the ice, the Mullets are excited to celebrate the successes of our current and former players with the continuation of our “Following the Flow” series.
On Tuesday, the Mullets announced goaltender Leo Iaboni has been accepted into the Graduate Program at the University of Michigan, where he will be pursuing an MS degree in Movement Science (Kinesiology). Leo will also be interning with the University’s Strength and Conditioning Staff during the first semester, and plans to continue his hockey career with the school’s club hockey program.
“It’s an honor to be admitted into the program,” Iaboni said. “Michigan is a prestigious university, and it will be a great place to pursue my career goal of obtaining my PHD in Kinesiology and becoming an educator at the college level.”
During the 2018-19 season, Iaboni had a 1-1-0 record in six games with the Mullets, posting a stingy 1.98 GAA and .940 save percentage, with one shutout; he was also attending school full time at the University of Minnesota while with the Mullets.
After aging out following the 2018-19 campaign, Iaboni stayed on with the Mullies as a Strength and Conditioning Coach, organizing team workouts and watching players individually to work on their form and technique.
“I’m really thankful Coach Walby allowed me to practice and work with the team last year, even though I was an aged-out player,” Iaboni said. “Being with the Mullets allowed me to balance junior hockey with a full time undergraduate course load, and after aging out, I was able to become a fitness coach and use my prior knowledge to help the team continue to grow and take care of themselves on and off the ice. The Mullets have definitely helped prepare me for grad school, and it certainly made my time in Minnesota a blast!”
Iaboni knows his path was a bit different than the route most junior hockey players take when pursuing both academics and athletics, but emphasized the importance of taking education seriously.
“Your academic effort is a good indicator of your character, and it’s important to take school seriously,” Iaboni said. “While school is not for everyone, if you do decide to go to school, you’d better make sure you are putting in as much effort in your studies as you do on the ice. School and hockey require big sacrifices, and that is something you need to understand before undertaking the opportunity. You must commit your best effort to both, and in order to do that, you will need to make choices and sacrifices: less video games and partying, and more time working on your crafts and getting good sleep every night. Junior hockey is a great opportunity, and it’s important to make the most of your time on the team. You will make great friendships and memories, but the time will fly by. It’s important to make sure you are doing at least one thing every day to make yourself a better teammate and hockey player!”
“An education is forever – hockey may not be,” Iaboni added.” I love the game and want to play hockey at the most competitive level for as long as possible, but I understand my futures might involve not playing hockey whatsoever. Since I have a great education and want to pursue a (Kinesiology) career, I believe that my education is the best investment I can make.”
“Leo has been awesome for us; he’s so athletic in net and he competes so hard,” Mullets Head Coach Chris Walby said. “Physically, he’s been the most fit player on the team the past two seasons, and the boys would tell you that too. Our players bought in immediately to what Leo was teaching this year and it showed. Individually, each player showed major gains in strength which translated to success on the ice. Leo’s guidance in training helped make that happen.”
“We’re blessed to have Leo as a part of the Mullet family,” Walby continued. His story is incredible. I feel so fortunate to have been a part of it. He’s a special player and person, and I’m eagerly looking forward to following his journey.”