Coaching hockey has helped Fairview’s Kyle Cayko stay busy this winter.
The 2006 Fairview High School graduate and Richland Rangers alumnus heard through the grapevine that junior gold head coach Jason Schmierer was looking for an assistant and figured he could do the job.
“I gave him a call to see what his stipulations were for what he wanted out of the year and everything,” Cayko said. “I’m going to be in the area, and I just wanted to help out.”
Cayko finds himself playing the good cop more often than not, a role that suits his jocular personality. “I feel like I’m the constant encourager,” he said. “I always try to find a silver lining.
“I won’t let them walk all over me by any means, but I would rather play the good cop.”
Cayko has remained positive, despite uneven results on the ice. The junior gold team currently has a thin roster that has struggled to replace last year’s senior class, but they have played well at times, including a 7-1 win over rival Watford City, N.D., in December and an 8-3 win on senior night over Mayport.
Schmierer said Cayko’s positive attitude has worked well with the team. “He comes to the rink with a smile on his face, and the kids like that,” Schmierer said.
As a former forward, Cayko keeps a close eye on the offensive zone, and sometimes notices things Schmierer, a former defenseman, would otherwise miss. “The nice thing about Kyle is he’s not going to stand in the background,” Schmierer said. “He’ll step in and offer his input.”
Cayko has been around hockey most of his life. His dad, who played pond hockey as a kid and men’s league hockey as an adult, got him interested in the game at a young age. “I skated for the first time when I was 4,” Cayko said. “He would take me to the old Quillings Park outdoor rink for open skating.”
When he was 6 years old, Cayko began playing organized hockey in the Richland Youth Hockey program, and he continued playing through high school, when he was a member of the junior gold team he now coaches.
He had never coached hockey prior to this season, but he’s not a complete rookie as a coach, having spent two summers coaching his younger sister Erin’s softball team several years ago.
After graduating from Montana State University with a psychology degree in May, Cayko returned home to Fairview, where he has helped his dad farm sugar beets in between stints as a production assistant with the Golf Channel’s reality show “The Big Break,” which he does twice a year for three weeks. “It’s like a work vacation, and I’m trying to go one more time before I get a real job,” he laughs.
Golf is Cayko’s other favorite sport. He was introduced to the game by his grandfather when he was about 10 years old, and he excelled in high school, earning all-state honors as a senior. He also played football and baseball, more or less to pass the time between hockey and golf seasons.
After this hockey season, Cayko said he’ll probably leave Fairview in search of a job, but he’d love to return to his hometown when the time is right. “I’m probably going to go away for a year or two and try to get some experience doing something somewhere else,” he said. “Then come back to this area at some point in the near future, just not quite sure when.”