Director, Special Projects
Phone: (719) 538-1148
Lou Vairo, director of special projects for USA Hockey since 1992, has directed national and professional teams in both the United States and Europe for parts of three decades. Vairo’s coaching resume is vast and includes serving on the coaching staff for the 1984 and 2002 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Teams.
Early in his coaching career, Vairo spent three seasons as coach of the Austin (Minn.) Mavericks in the United States Hockey League, leading the team to the national championship in 1976.
Prior to being named head coach of the 1984 U.S. Olympic Team, Vairo directed the 1983 U.S. Men’s National Team in the IIHF World Championship. From 1979-82, he coached the U.S. National Junior Team and also guided the team in 2003.
From 1990-92, he served as head coach of Italy’s H.C. Milano Saima, guiding the team to the 1991 Italian League National Championship. Prior to joining H.C. Milano, Vairo spent three seasons as head coach of H.C. Fassa in Italy and one year as head coach of the Dutch National Team. He has also been involved with professional hockey in the United States, having spent two years as an assistant coach with the National Hockey League’s New Jersey Devils.
From 2000-03, Vairo served as head coach of the U.S. Men’s National Team, posting an 11-8-4 overall record at the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship. In 2001, he led Team USA to a fourth-place finish in Cologne and Hanover, Germany. It was the highest finish since the United States captured the bronze medal in 1996. Vairo was also an assistant coach of the 2002 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team at the XIX Olympic Winter Games, held in Salt Lake City, Utah. The team compiled a 4-1-1 record en route to winning the silver medal, the first American men’s ice hockey medal in 22 years.
He has also coached every age group of youth hockey, including the New York Rangers-sponsored Met League. In addition, he studied under the legendary Anatoly Tarasov, the late father of Russian hockey who authored numerous publications on the sport.
While at USA Hockey, Vairo has been instrumental in implementing the Diversity Task Force, a program that introduces hockey to inner city and minority children, in addition to helping to create what are known today as USA Hockey’s Select Player Development Camps. He has also been widely involved in the structure and content of USA Hockey’s Coaching Education Program and represented the organization on the IIHF Coaching Committee. Vairo has authored many books and articles on hockey used by coaches around the world.
Vairo received the prestigious Lester Patrick Award in March 2000 for his outstanding service to hockey in the United States. Vairo was also honored twice in 1994 for his lifetime commitment to hockey, receiving both the John “Snooks” Kelley Founders Award from the American Hockey Coaches Association, and the Walter Yaciuk Award from USA Hockey’s Coaching Education Program.
In 2014, Vairo was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.