SHREVEPORT, La (KMSS/KTAL) – The Mudbugs are currently chasing their first Robertson Cup since 2018. A beloved addition to their coaching staff is helping inspire the team to reach their full potential, one day at a time.
“He’s not lucky to have Mudbugs hockey,” said Mudbugs’ Head Coach Jason Campbell. “Mudbugs hockey is lucky to have Chris.”
“We’re fortunate to have him in our lives,” said Captain David Breazeale. “We’ve just accepted him into this Mudbugs family, and it’s really special.”
“It just means more than they probably even know to him,” said Lisa Layne, Chris’ mom.
You won’t see Coach Chris listed on the Mudbugs roster, but make no mistake, he’s a Mudbug.
“He’s a part of the team,” said Breazeale. “I mean from day one he’s been a part of the team.”
Chris is on the autism spectrum. The Mudbugs first welcomed him as a fan. Next, as an equipment manager, and then Coach Campbell created a new position just for Chris, as honorary assistant coach.
“I go into the coaches office, talk to them, talk about the plays,” said Chris. “Give them all the plays and tell them what to do, like a boss.”
Being a part of the Mudbugs is an opportunity Chris has fully embraced. The fact the team has embraced him back means everything.
“When you have a child like that, you just always hope that they help them,” said Lisa. “That they accept him. I don’t even know if they realize the impact they have on him.”
By accepting Chris, the team gets his jokes, karaoke skills, and unconditional support in return. Because even when times get tough, Chris still manages to keep things positive.
“We have a terrible period of hockey, and we’re losing a hockey game,” said Coach Campbell. “We’re sitting in our coaches office as coaches and we’re like, ‘Okay when are we going to go in? What’s our message going to be?’ And he’ll come in, ‘Already talked to the boys.'”
“He’s coming in, and he’s upset,” said Breazeale. “He’s angry with us at first. Then, he looks around the room, and he realizes that he loves each and every one of us and he gets a smile on his face.”
Those motivational speeches come from the guy who gave him a chance in the first place.
“I get it from Jason Campbell, the head coach,” said Chris.
“When you talk about him, it just brings a smile to your face and you can’t help it’s just joy,” said Coach Campbell.
But as a true Coach, come puck drop, Chris is focused on the ultimate goal.
“Winning the Robertson Cup,” said Chris. “Championship.”