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Austin Peay announces new club hockey team to play at Clarksville’s Ford Ice Center

By: Bill Persinger November 1, 2023

Govs Ice Hockey

Austin Peay State University (APSU) announced the formation of its first ice hockey team today, with plans to compete in the College Hockey South association and using the newly opened Ford Ice Center in the F&M Bank arena in Clarksville. 

The Nashville Predators and Sabertooth Sports & Entertainment, LLC (SS&E), who manage F&M Bank Arena, worked closely with APSU President Mike Licari to make his vision of hockey at the University a reality.   

“Govs Ice Hockey represents yet another opportunity to provide a dynamic campus atmosphere and provides young hockey players across the southeast a chance to continue to play competitively while earning their degrees,” Licari said. “I learned to skate as soon as I could walk, and hockey was the first sport I played. I’ve loved the sport my entire life, so launching our club hockey team is personally exciting.” 

Some of the inaugural Govs Ice Hockey players.

The club-level team will compete against other regional schools within the Club Hockey South association. 

“The announcement highlights our continued strong partnership between SS&E and APSU, reflecting the dedication to continuing the growth of hockey in Middle Tennessee and expanding opportunities for students at Austin Peay,” F&M Bank General Manager Kylie Wilkerson said. “We are so excited to see the Govs take the ice at Ford Ice Center Clarksville and F&M Bank Arena.”  

Austin Peay also announced that Kane Eastwood will be the club’s first coach, and Cooper Smith, a first-year APSU student from Clarksville, will be the club’s first president. 

Gnash congratulates the club's first president, Cooper Smith.

Dr. Leonard Clemons, APSU’s vice president for student affairs, spearheaded the efforts to establish the team with support from Intramural Sports and Sports Clubs Coordinator Anja Shelton. 

“I’m excited that we are launching a hockey team as we seek to boost campus engagement and work toward APSU’s goal of a thriving student experience,” said Clemons, who began his role in July. “That’s a key part of the overall Austin Peay Experience.” 

Shelton, who has worked with APSU’s Foy Fitness and Recreation Center for approximately 10 years, said the community’s interest in ice hockey has also opened the door for growth in club sports across the University. 

“I believe the addition of Govs Ice Hockey will create a standard and raise expectations for all of our sports clubs,” Shelton said. “It’s presented us with not only ice hockey but an interest in men’s volleyball, figure skating, rugby and more – and I hope we can build on creating a supportive culture around our sports clubs.” 

Govs Ice Hockey

Eastwood has over 25 years of hockey experience and most recently played at the Division 3 college level for Georgia State University. Since graduating in 2012, he has coached youth roller and ice hockey in Georgia and Tennessee while working as a telecom engineer. 
To support the operations of Govs Ice Hockey and its future students, you can make a gift to the Austin Peay Hockey Club Team Fund of Excellence at https://givetoapsu.com/HockeyClubFOE. 

For questions about giving, contact the APSU Office of Philanthropy at 931-221-7127 or give@apsu.edu.

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