SHREVEPORT, La (KMSS/KTAL) – The Shreveport Mudbugs have been a part of the Port City community since 1997. Jason Campbell has been through it all as a player, front office executive, and Head Coach. Campbell chatted all things Mudbugs with John Sartori earlier this week.
John Sartori: I think it’s easy to forget, these are kids at the end of the day, you know, these are kids that usually would be getting ready for homecoming and Prom instead they’re getting ready to take the ice in front of, 1000 fans on a Saturday night and they move on to the next level. You guys have a great track record of sending them to the next level. What is it that your coaching staff and yourself have been able to do to prepare them and get colleges to come and want to get these kids into their programs?
Jason Campbell: “Well, first of all it’s the way they perform. If you’re performing well as a team, you can have one or two good players that may just be lights out, And you’ll have some teams, some schools come watch, or even the NHL but when your team is performing well overall it puts a little bit of a spotlight on on the team itself. Therefore, it gives a lot of other guys an opportunity to to be seen.”
John Sartori: You’ve worn a lot of hats, you’ve been a player, you’ve been in the front office, you’ve been an assistant on the bench and now you’re the head coach. As someone who has basically been with the Mudbugs throughout their entire existence, for the community to rally around this team at every level professional or junior hockey, what does it mean to you personally?
Jason Campbell: “I still to this day will just sit back and say, ‘I can’t believe I’m actually coaching hockey.’ A sport that I’ve loved since I was two years old, and in Shreveport, Louisiana, of all places, you know like, like how lucky am I? I’m in the south, the weather’s great, I get to watch my kids play and my son play, and, and even my other kids love to just come and skate. It’s the people that make this place, it’s not me. That’s what makes Mudbugs hockey. It’s everything that I’m surrounded by that that makes Mudbugs hockey. That’s what makes it so hard to even want to go somewhere else.”
John Sartori: Coming from a place where hockey rules in Canada, to Shreveport, Louisiana and the job that the Mudbugs have done in bringing youth hockey here and having kids grow up and play a sport that in Louisiana, it just doesn’t happen in other places, how cool is that to see that you’ve got these Louisiana kids wanting to instead of going and playing football or baseball they want to come play hockey?
Jason Campbell: “It’s a great feeling, and for me, I think it’d be cool for a kid to be able to go to school and say, ‘I’m a hockey player. Because you still get it here, right? Even though we’ve been around for a long time, people still don’t realize that there’s hockey here, and it’s you’re almost year-round. The ice only isn’t here for maybe two months out of the year, three months out of the year, we need to keep it going. That’s the other great thing I don’t think anybody takes it for granted, you have to work extremely hard to keep hockey alive and well here and our fan base understands that.”
John Sartori: The fans understand how important they are a part of this, a lot of teams. After the pandemic either went dormant, or just aren’t coming back at all. The Mudbugs are one of the teams that came back and I think that the fans realize that they’re a big part of that, that they were necessary for it to come back, how grateful are you that you guys are able to be in this building, have fans in this building, and and to still be playing hockey and Shreveport?
Jason Campbell: “Forever grateful. It’s hard to put into words. We would not be here, we would have been gone a long time ago if it wasn’t for the fans because as much as we all love Mudbugs hockey there’s still a business side to it right? You need money, and without your season ticket holders, your corporate partners, just the people that, that just come up to a game every once in a while. Without those people, without the partnerships that you that you grow, there’s no way this would survive. For me to be able to have a job here like this, I’m so fortunate to have a job coaching hockey in Shreveport. It’s not because I’m an unbelievable coach it’s just because I have an opportunity here to do it, and we’re doing a good job as a team, you know, and that wouldn’t be possible without fans and corporate partners, just the community in general.”