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 Operations & Goalie Coach - Joe Clark
Joe joined the Pilots staff in the spring of 2018 and plays a part in the office and on the ice. He handles Business Operations in the office, and coaches the team's goaltenders on the ice.
Prior to arriving in Topeka, Clark spent 28 years as an NHL scout, minor league GM and head coach, college goaltending coach, and a decade-long stint as a head coach in Europe. Most recently, Clark was a midwest scout for the New York Islanders. Clark is also part of the NHL goaltending group Net360, based out of Kelowna, B.C.
Clark got his coaching career off the ground as the goalie coach at the University of Maine, and helped the Black Bears to their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance in 1987 and the school's first Frozen Four in 1988.
The Augusta, Maine, native split 10 years as a head coach between the Danish Elite League and the Norwegian Elite League, and later became the first-ever head coach of the minor league Odessa Jackalopes, then a member of the Western Professional Hockey League.
After scouting and coaching in the New York Islanders system for several years, Clark returned to Odessa as the team's GM and maintained his ties with the Islanders. The Jackalopes served as a minor league affiliate of New York and were instrumental in getting several Odessa players opportunities in both the AHL and NHL.
During his 8 years in Odessa, Clark helped the team win numerous league awards - including Franchise of the Year in 1998 and 1999, and the Central Hockey League's Most Improved franchise in 2009. His club was also recognized as the league's top team in community relations in 2009 and 2010.
Clark would later help the Jackalopes transition into junior hockey as Odessa became a member of the North American Hockey League. He then moved on to Topeka and became the RoadRunners Executive Director of Business Operations before accepting a position at the University of Denver as the team's Recruiting Coordinator and Goaltending Coach.
Joe and his wife Stephanie are the proud parents of three children - daughter Sydnie (19), son Tanner (17) and daughter Ella (10), and reside in Topeka.
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 for fans and works side-by-side with Caroline to create digital and print content for the team.
Having grown up playing multiple sports, 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 (10) and Madison (8) who live in Iola, Kansas with her parents. She resides in Topeka with her Pitbull mix, Hosmer.
Director of Game Production & Graphic Content - Caroline Rea
Caroline Rea is in her fourth season with Topeka hockey. She worked for 3 seasons under the Topeka RoadRunners as the Design Manager. Since the ownership change she has moved to the position of Director of Game Production and Graphic Content which combines her love of the game with her passion for photography, editing, and design.
Rea discovered her love of the sport by growing up surrounded with hockey in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, a town that was voted Hockeyville, USA in 2015. In 2011, the town welcomed the newly relocated NAHL team, the Johnstown Tomahawks. Since then she's been hooked on junior hockey. After graduating high school in 2014, she attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania for a year before moving to Topeka, KS to continue her education at Washburn University.
She has a firm belief that hockey is for everyone and has worked toward helping spread her love of the sport throughout Topeka and the midwest by helping integrate floor hockey into the community centers, sitting on the Topeka Youth Hockey board of directors, teaching hockey 101 classes for kids, and getting involved in organizations like the American Hearing Impaired Hockey Association (AHIHA).
Caroline currently resides in Topeka and is looking forward to this new season under new ownership.
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.
Manager of Group Sales - Karen Alfrey
Karen joined the Topeka Pilots this year and is concentrating on group sales and fundraising opportunities. She has lived in Topeka most of her life and attended Washburn University where she met her husband Steve.
After a career at Southwestern Bell Telephone Company, Karen spent 11 years in sales with the insurance industry.
Alfrey’s love of hockey began in 2001 when the USHL came to Topeka. She and Steve joined the billet program and have been billets almost every year since. They have also been a host family for several exchange students and baseball players in the summer league.
Karen resides in Shawnee County with Steve and their dog. They have 2 grown children. Karen was excited to have the opportunity to work with the Topeka Pilots and would love to assist you in having a group function or party at one of the home games so give her a call to get it scheduled.
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.