Christine Hupkovich, Executive Director
Christine’s son Lance was diagnosed with an inoperable malignant brain stem tumor at age 4 and the family spent the next several years determined to save Lance. After receiving several cancer treatments, Lance received a life-saving immunotherapy treatment leading to his miraculous improvement. While searching for activities for Lance, the family was introduced to the Mighty Penguins. From his first time on the ice, it was clear Lance found his sport. Lance enjoys his position as a sled hockey goalie and loves competition.
Christine began as the Executive Director for the Mighty Penguins Sled Hockey organization July of 2019. Christine executes the decisions determined by the board of directors for the Mighty Penguins and will be our COVID-19 contact for all players and parents this season. She is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the organization and is the primary contact for the organization.
Joe McCormick, President
Joe became an immediate fan of sled hockey and the Mighty Penguins when his daughter Abby, who was born with Spina Bifida and is now 20-years-old, began playing sled hockey at the start of the 2015/2016 season. Joe became the assistant coach for the novice team for the 2016/2017 season as well as a member of the Board of Directors and soon thereafter, President of the organization. Presently, he is a USA Hockey-certified level 3 coach and a coach to an adult team.
Joe has served on the board of directors for the Spina Bifida Association of Western Pennsylvania (“SBAWP”) and Spina Bifida Housing, Inc. (“SB Housing) since 2006 serving as treasurer for both organizations and president then chairman of the board for SBAWP and has held several volunteer positions at his church, Ken Mawr United Presbyterian Church, including the head of finance. Joe and his wife Melissa live in Robinson Township and Abby is attending Seton Hill University while still playing hockey. Joe is a CPA and certified treasury professional with a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Washington & Jefferson College. He has worked at Federated Investors, Inc. for over 25 years and is the Director of the Corporate Treasury department.
Mark McCoy, Vice President
Mark has been involved with Mighty Penguins Sled Hockey since its founding in 1998, when his son Daniel joined the program as a 4-year-old born with Spina Bifida, and has witnessed both Daniel and the Mighty Penguins program continue to grow and thrive. As proud parents of Daniel and his older brother Andrew, Mark and his wife Angie watched Daniel improve and persevere in the sport, ultimately playing for the U.S. Men’s National Sled Hockey team and winning a gold medal in the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi, Russia. Andrew played both stand-up and sled hockey (with Daniel) as well, and is currently a Resident M.D. specializing in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at UPMC in Pittsburgh.
Mark is a USA Hockey-certified Level 4 coach, serving as an Assistant Coach on the Mighty Penguins Senior Team on which Daniel continues to play. Mark also serves on USA Hockey’s Sled Player Waiver Committee, which reviews roster exception requests from players throughout the country to ensure consistency in player placement according to USA Hockey rules, and to foster growth of the sport with the formation of new teams.
Mark has worked for Federated Investors in Pittsburgh since 1995, currently serving as Enterprise Data Officer. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Systems and Industrial Management from Carnegie-Mellon University, as well as a Master of Sciences degree in Industrial Administration from CMU’s Graduate School of Industrial Administration (now the Tepper School of Business).
James Michael, Director of Operations
James acquired his love of hockey playing in the minor leagues in Canada. He has coached hockey as a volunteer for both his son’s and daughter’s hockey teams and has managed his adult ice hockey team. As Director of Operations, James is responsible for the operational phases of the sled hockey organization including the formation of teams and growth paths, and the selection and development of coaches, schedules and players.
James is a Product Development Leader with more than 25 years design experience leading the hardware development, production, and service organizations at ChemImage as Director of Engineering. He graduated from the University of Waterloo with both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering.
Erica Burg, Treasurer
Erica Burg got involved with The Mighty Pens in 2015 when her hockey playing daughter decided to volunteer as part of her Bat Mitzvah project. She began pushing players and formed friendships along the way. Her son also began volunteering as he also plays hockey and it was a great way for both kids to do something they love while helping others enjoy the sport.
Erica is not new to helping in the community she is Chief Operating Superhero of The Superhero Foundation. The Foundation was brought to Pittsburgh by Erica in 2008 raising awareness for the prevention of child abuse. There is annual walk/run that takes place every April in North Park with proceeds benefiting CASA of Allegheny County.
She lives with her 2 kids Charney and Lucas, Husband Chuck, 2 cats and 3 dogs one of which has just become a certified therapy dog. She works as a Sr. Sales & Financial Analyst at Forever Inc helping people Collect, Curate and Celebrate their memories permanently for generations.
Dan McCoy, Director for Player Development
Dan has been involved with the Mighty Penguins sled hockey program since its founding in 1998, when he began playing at the age of 4. Dan was born with Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus. At the age of 14, Dan earned a spot on the U.S. Men’s Development Sled Hockey Team where he spent two seasons. At the age of 16, he earned a spot on the U.S. Men’s National Sled Hockey Team where he spent 6 seasons winning 2 world championship gold medals in 2012 and 2015, and a gold medal in the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
Dan continues to play on the Mighty Penguins Senior Team, also serving as an assistant coach for the team, as well as serving as Director for Player Development for the Mighty Penguins. Dan is a personal trainer with certification from the American Council on Exercise. With the help of the University of Pittsburgh, he and students in the university’s Physical Therapy Doctoral program created an off-ice program called Mighty Strong, to train the athletes of the Mighty Penguins program in a gym setting to lead healthier lifestyles on and off the ice. The program is in its 3rd season. Dan recently became a member of the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America where he serves on the board of Assistive Technology Standards for Inclusive Fitness.
Dan graduated in 2017 from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication and currently works at the University of Pittsburgh as a personal trainer at Mercy Hospital’s Spina Bifida Clinic as well as at the Human Engineering Research Laboratories as a Research Coordinator. Dan is also a board member of SB Housing, in which he oversees the wellness program offered to the residents, and Hockey Sticks Together.
Head Coaching Staff
In his 16th year as head coach of the Mighty Penguins Sled Hockey teams, Ray Harding continues to devote his time to mentoring our amazing athletes. Ray and his wife Tammy were integral to the early success of the Mighty Penguins team. When Ray’s then 8-yr old son Zach, who was born with Spina Bifida, witnessed the Mighty Penguins on-ice at Harmarville Bladerunners, he was hooked! It didn’t take long for Ray to learn the game and coach this group of kids. The rest is history! Thanks to Ray’s dedication, the program grew from 1 team of 8 players to a 4 team, 56 player organization entering the 2016-17 season.
In 2013, Ray was honored by the Pittsburgh Penguins with the 2nd Annual Founders and Builders Award for his selfless dedication to the growth of hockey in Western Pennsylvania.
Eric Brown comes to the Mighty Penguins with over 20 years of coaching experience. He has coached wrestling, cross country and track at the high school and middle school levels. After Eric and Amy’s son, Alex, suffered a spinal cord injury his focus changed to adaptive sports. Eric has always been a fan of hockey but never played the game. He started volunteering at the Mighty Penguins soon after Alex started playing sled hockey. He helped his daughter, Abigail, learn to skate so the family can enjoy skating together. Eventually, Eric became the head coach of the Junior team. He has been involved with the Mighty Penguins for over five years on and off the ice. In addition, Eric coaches his son’s Miracle League baseball team during the spring and fall seasons. Currently, Eric is an eighth grade history teacher at Pine-Richland Middle School. He is also a board member and founder of Rise Again to help families in Western PA with spinal cord injuries.
Check out Alex Brown’s story here.