Mason Baptista, a former Komets forward, was enthusiastic about his coaching future in February after a memorable experience at the Beijing Olympics, during which he was an assistant coach for China’s women’s team.
But Baptista’s time on the international stage wasn’t done.
Since the Olympics, he’s worked more as an assistant coach with a women’s pro team and with China’s men’s and women’s teams at the International Ice Hockey Federation’s World Championships.
With the KRS Vanke Rays, the women’s team in Eurasia's Zhenskaya Hockey League, Baptista was in charge of skills and video work.
“It’s really rewarding when you see players apply the skills you’ve been teaching or discussing on video,” said Baptista, 32. “It’s especially awesome when a player comes to you after the game and goes, ‘Did you see that? I did what we worked on.’ And the smile they get on their faces is just priceless.”
The team defeated Tornado Moscow Oblast in the playoff finals, though Baptista had to leave before the postseason to assist China’s squads at the World Championships.
With the women’s team, Baptista managed the forwards and the power-play units, areas in which the Chinese excelled as they went 5-0-0 and were promoted to Division IA for the 2023 tournament. For China’s men’s team, Baptista was a video coach and that squad went 4-0-0, also getting promoted for next year’s tournament.
“All in all, it was a great experience and really showed me how much I’d love to be behind the bench in the future,” Baptista said. “The adjustments you have to make on the fly and managing the group in real time is something I’m excited to do.”
Baptista skated for Fort Wayne from 2015 to 2019. Baptista played 180 regular-season games with the Komets, totaling 54 goals and 126 points. In 27 playoff games, he added three goals and 13 points.
He has a significant presence on social media – @Bapshockey – where he does instructional videos and breaks down game film. He played seven seasons in the professional ranks, finishing in 2020-21 with 17 goals and 43 points in 38 games, and capturing the Southern Professional Hockey League's MVP award, for the Macon Mayhem.
At the Olympics, China’s women’s team went a surprising 2-2-0, defeating Denmark 3-1 and upsetting rival Japan 2-1 in an overtime shootout. He helped head coach Brian Idalski with pre-game preparation and in-game adjustments. He wasn't on the bench during games, which included losses to the Czech Republic and Sweden, but was close by in the stands and looking for potential video reviews, also helping make adjustments during intermissions.