General Manager & Head Coach - Simon Watson
Simon Watson is in his first season as the Pilots Head Coach and General Manager.
Watson played professional hockey in the Central Hockey League (CHL) for the Lubbock Cotton Kings, Rocky Mountain Rage, and the Missouri Mavericks. His strong leadership qualities on and off the ice, and significant contributions to his community didn't go unnoticed as he was named the 2011 CHL Man of the Year.
He played MWJHL junior hockey in his home town, Waterloo, Ontario, for the Waterloo Siskins. From 2001-2006 Watson played NCAA Division 1 collegiate hockey at St. Lawrence University where he received his Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Masters of Educational Leadership.
On August 5, 2011, Watson retired as a player and became the Mavericks' Assistant Director of Hockey Operations. Watson has continued to work with the Kansas City Mavericks in various capacities including Associate Coach, Director of Player Personnel, and Color Analyst for televised Mavericks games.
On May 9, 2013, he was named to the coaching staff of the KC Mavs Elite Midget AAA team. He also volunteers with the Jr. Mavericks by coaching and teaching youth hockey players in the Kansas City area. Watson is a registered level 5 Coach with USA hockey.
Simon and his wife Megan live in Riverside, Missouri with their two sons Hudson and Sawyer.
Director of Business Development - Keli Lee
This is Keli's second season in the NAHL. After graduating from West Texas A&M University in 2017 with an Advertising and Public Relations degree and Marketing minor, she began her sports career with the Amarillo Bulls during the 2017-2018 season as the Ticket Account Executive.
The Kansas City native was anxious to get back in the midwest with her family - which led her to the Pilots. As the Director of Business Development, Lee keeps the Pilots website and social media up-to-date, creates digital and print content, handles game production and organizes community appearances.
Having grown up a multiple sports athlete, she's always dreamed of working in the sports industry. Lee is excited to continue her hockey career with the Topeka Pilots.
Keli is a big sister to Alexis and Madison who live in Iola, Kansas with her parents. She resides in Topeka with her Pitbull mix, Hosmer.
Director of Ticket Accounts - Sally Ives
Sally was born and raised in England before she moved to Spain, then Hawaii and finally Topeka where she was naturalized in 2000 and has spent the past 27 years.
Upon arriving in Topeka Ives began working for the Washburn Rural School District where she spent 12 years. During her time with the school she began volunteering with the hockey team in the 2009-10 season and hasn't looked back since. After volunteering for 6 years, Sally was hired full-time with the team in 2015 as the Merchandise Manager and is now the Director of Ticket Accounts for the Pilots.
Ives is a registered Level 1 USA Hockey coach which she uses to help with the Learn to Play program. She has previously been on the Topeka Youth Hockey board as the Director of the Bantams.
Sally and her husband Terry reside in Topeka and are parents to four children and two cats.
Sponsorship Account Executive - Daniel Mandel
Daniel Mandel joined the Pilots at the beginning of the 2018-19 season as the Sponsorship Account Executive, handling both sponsorships and group ticket sales. Being a Topeka native, he has followed Topeka hockey for years and played for the Jr. Scarecrows traveling team as child.
Mandel attended Topeka Collegiate and Topeka West High School before receiving a Degree in Architectural Drafting from The University of Texas San Antonio in 2012. After graduating, Mandel moved back to Topeka to be closer to his family and friends. After 5 years in the automotive sales industry, he is excited to begin a new career in the sports industry and be part of the new franchise.
He currently lives in Topeka with his 3 children, Ryder, Titan, and Maxson, his girlfriend Kacie, and their 4 dogs and cat.
Play-by-Play Broadcaster - Sean Kelly
Sean Kelly is joining the organization after his recent move to Topeka. Last season he was the PA announcer for the Central Illinois Flying Aces. Before that, he has a history of working with different sports organizations around the Central Illinois area including broadcasting United Hockey League games for the Bloomington Prairie Thunder.
Sean has a long history with hockey. He grew up in Peoria, Illinois where his father named the Peoria Rivermen back in 1984, which is still the team name to date. He went go on to work behind the scenes for the team in the 90’s and 2000’s.
He recently moved to Topeka to become the new Morning Show Host for Majic 107.7. Not only can you listen to him call the Pilots home games, but you can also listen to Sean every morning. He is very excited to not only take on that role, but to be able to call all home games at the Expo Center for the upcoming year.
Sean lives in Topeka and is looking forward to the upcoming season.