Hockey is a beautiful game, this we know. One thing we sometimes forget is how it affects the people around us.
Last week I was blessed with a beautiful wedding as I married my best friend and my partner in crime. Even though we have been together for over five years I know there are many challenges ahead and my lifestyle is not the easiest on her. I work full-time, I work out every day, I have many goals and aspirations and I play hockey as much as I can on any given week. I thought living together now would be easier on us but it in many ways it has gotten harder like when I leave for a late night game and I know she is going to bed alone.
At the professional level all of this is only more challenging; players and coaches are always at practice or meetings and most of the year they spend traveling to games or even try-outs and camps. It only gets harder to spend quality time with the ones you love. This is why I reached out to Wendy Tippett (no rookie when it comes to experience as an NHL wife, with over 30 years of experience) to find out what it is like to be in her shoes.
For those of you not familiar with Wendy, she is the wife of Arizona Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett and she was more than welcome to talk to me about her experiences, life in Arizona and even some advice that I found beneficial as a newlywed. Though there are ups and downs to their situation, she credits the NHL for the beautiful life they have.
Beyond the ice, Wendy has worked hard to create a career in real estate and make her way onto Canada’s reality TV show, Hockey Wives.
Without any further babbling I introduce you to our interview!
How long have you and Dave known each other? Where did you meet? Tell us the story…
Dave and I met in our first year at the University of North Dakota- we were inseparable from that day forward and even though we were so young- (18 and 20) we knew we would be married eventually. After the next year- Dave was chosen to be the Captain of the Canadian Olympic team and he had to leave to train for a year in Calgary and travel all over the world preparing. (That was when it was all amateurs) I knew that this was his dream and I fully supported it but I had to stay at school that year- it was so hard! He proposed a few days before he left for training camp- selling his car to afford a ring.
Beautiful! I recently got married myself and it was the best day of my life for sure! How was your wedding and how has it been being with him for all these years?
Well, I visited Calgary many times and after Sarajevo [1984 Winter Olympics], we went to Hartford for the end of that NHL season- then we were married in Bismarck North Dakota. We had no money... at all... lol- so the wedding in its entirety - cost less than the dress for my daughter’s wedding! We had the best time though and there were a lot of players who came and supported us at the "Best Western" ... hahaha! We moved to Hartford CT the next fall and started our lives with a 100 pound german shepherd named Gangster, a couch and a TV.... that was the extent of our possessions!! I look back and laugh because even though everything has changed- nothing has changed... we are still the same people who love and support each other- we have lived in so many places and made amazing friends, raised two amazing daughters and yet now it’s back to Dave and I again... and we are still so happy together. He is the best man I have ever met and I feel blessed every day to have him by my side- he has never let me down and makes me laugh every day!
“He has never let me down and makes me laugh every day!”
And life before Dave? Where were you born and raised? Has hockey always been a part of your life?
I was raised in Minnesota until I was 12- then we moved to Virginia- outside of DC where I started figure skating - there is nothing that makes me feel more free than skating- I loved it so much- hockey players at that time were just guys who ruined the ice and who I constantly wanted to race and loved beating! In grade 10 we moved to North Dakota which was culture shock for me... no skating clubs… freezing... flat....I was a hockey cheerleader there so I could skate for free and that was the first time I actually watched a game- and it was high school hockey so not quite the same as the NHL... :) I guess I was being prepared for my future in which hockey would become the epicenter of my life.
Any favorite teams growing up?
My family cheered for the North Stars as kids but I can't remember ever watching a game!!
Haha it is okay as I am sure you made up for it over the last few decades. And for your own career I hear you are involved in the real estate business. What is that like? How did you get started and what are your days like? How has Dave’s coaching career impacted your career?
I work for Silverleaf Realty now but I started in Dallas with a company called Ellen Terry Realtors- I always wanted to be a real estate agent but with our lives- moving so much -everyone told me I was crazy- "you have to have an established base of people" / "finding clients in a new city will be so hard". They were right- it's tough to start over again and again but it's the only job that I truly love, so I do it!! I work full time but it is a schedule that I make myself so when Dave is gone I work like crazy and when he's home I back off a little to spend time with him. I know that we won't be here forever but this is our 7th year here so I have had time to settle in - we will retire one day so I will always keep my business here from now on!
And you are also part of the Canadian reality TV show – Hockey Wives. How is life in such a spotlight and in front of the camera? Has your life been impacted in any way from the show, I am sure it cannot be easy?
I was a late addition to season one and was so busy with work that I didn't film much- most of my clients are private people so wouldn't allow filming... I am barely on it but if I had started earlier- I would have done more- I loved it and BGM did a great job showing what life is like for the wives in the NHL- we are tight knit group and always support each other! I am in the US so no one has seen the show... my life hasn't changed a bit! :)
Lol, I am from New York and have not seen more than a few scenes however I heard it’s been doing great as a second season was picked up. Can we get any inside scoops on the future of the show?
I can't talk about season 2 but you all will love it- they are a fantastic production company and will make it even better!
So you are a very busy person and Dave is head coach for the Coyotes. None of this can be easy, can it? How do you guys find time for one another all these years?
Dave works 24 hours a day.... seriously... coaching takes so much more time than I ever knew- he has to manage players- training staff- coaching staff- media relations and then strategy - film work- planning practices.. so much! Dave loves it though and it's been his whole life- I go to most of the home games and watch a lot of games in bed... over and over.. It taught me so much about the game and sadly I'm full of knowledge that has just soaked in over the years- sometimes I surprise myself by knowing answers to crazy hockey questions.. The information is in there but I would have no idea how to implement it!
The average NHL coaching tenure is less than four years from what I see. It is a very demanding job and the future of the job is often uncertain. What is that understanding like? How do you guys get by with that?
We have been lucky to stay in cities a long time (by coaching standards) - we were in Dallas for 7 years and have been here for 6- I think when coaches get fired it's not taken personally - everyone needs a change sometimes to light a new fire and get you excited again. I love moving and living in new places- I would love to live in Canada one day- we have never had that opportunity yet.
This is true. Dave has been fortunate enough to be at his job for a long time. This is one of the reasons why he is one of my favorite coaches. Can you credit yourself to any of his success in his career?... Take the time to credit yourself now :)
I think the only area in which I have helped Dave is communication- he was a very quiet man when we met- he is still a man of few words but now he is a great communicator and I think in coaching that has served him well-now he's realizing that the young kids of today are texters and not as comfortable with one on one conversations. He will have to transition again especially this year we have such young group!
Do you ever feel your career is put in the back burner of his? As I said above, his job is not very stable. How do you handle your career and your dreams alongside his?
I think Dave's job has been very stable - we have been in this business for 32 years and never had trouble getting a job so far. His job is first always.. I know that and am comfortable with it- I love the NHL and it has given us an amazing life- There are a lot of jobs that I take on with his job as well so I feel a part of it.
What is one thing you wish you guys did better on this previous season in regards to your relationship and how do you wish to improve upon it in the future? What is one thing you believe you did a great job on and want to continue doing?
We are a well-oiled machine at this point in our lives- we know when to stop working and reconnect and we understand when we are crazy busy with work and need to help each other out! After 31 years of marriage- there isn't much left to work out!!
Any advice for couples out there? I know for my wife and I it is not always easy. We work full-time and have our own individual hobbies and dreams we go after.
The advice I give everyone is- when you wake up every morning- think of one thing you can do for your spouse that day to make life a little easier or to make them smile, once a day will add up over the years ... women need to feel loved but it doesn't take much to show them- men need to feel respected and supported. We have always understood that dynamic!
What is a typical weekday like for you? A typical Weekend like?
Weekends and weekdays have no meaning to us... it's game days- non game days and off- season- on season!
We have a summer place in MN on a lake surrounded by all my family so that's off season..
Game days are very routine - Dave leaves for the rink- coffee in hand for pre-game skate… home for lunch and tape work- back to the rink until after the game.
When he was a player - lunch was the same every game - my poor kids were so sick of that meal!!
Do you have any morning routines/rituals?
We start the day sitting outside with a protein shake, coffee and a walk with our dog. Then Dave heads to work and I go work out - with my trainer or yoga or Pilates.
My brain doesn't turn on until I work out!
If you had to recommend one book to a friend what would that be?
I'm a reader so this would be tough - I love so many!! Unbroken (by Laura Hillenbrand) is probably the one I would recommend to anyone!
Favorite Netflix show? Or TV Show?
I loved Breaking Bad.. Game of Thrones.. and all things reality..... Dave loves Hell on Wheels and the Blacklist.
Who's winning the Stanley Cup - Chicago or Tampa Bay?
We have friends on both teams - Brian Boyle and Brendan Morrow in Tampa and Joel Quenneville - Kevin Dineen in Chicago. I will be so happy for either team - it is a very hard thing to do... everything has to go right. I’m excited for all of them!
Wendy, thank you so much for all of this. I know for myself this was exactly what I needed to hear at this time of my life. I hope all the best to you and your family. I know I hope to see Arizona in the playoffs next year. Are there any other things you wish to share?
Thanks Mark- It was fun to look back this morning and be reminded of great memories! If you are a newlywed- put your wife first.. you will never regret that decision as she is the only part of your life that will always be there! Dave always said he wanted to live his life in a way that when his daughters grew up they would look back and be proud of him - it worked! :) Nicole and Natalie still talk to their Dad every day and think he's perfect - they told me that when they decided who to date - they looked at how their Dad loved me and wanted that for themselves - there is no greater compliment...
You can follow more of Wendy on twitter @wentip14
To learn more about NHL wives and the reality TV show – Hockey Wives then check out this site below:
For a look at life after the NHL, check out our interview with Stanley Cup winner Turner Stevenson