Hockey alum reaches fifth year of being small business owner


Rebekah Waldron

CCAC North alum JT Tipler, owner and operator of Industry Goaltending

Rebekah Waldron, North Campus Editor

Coach James “JT” Tipler, 32, graduated from CCAC North in 2007 with a degree in liberal arts. He currently owns and operates Industry Goaltending, a quickly-escalating ice hockey goaltending school. The school is on its fifth year of operation and trains students from preparatory schools, high schools, and colleges.

“We’re not a traditional school. We operate at every rink in Western Pa. We travel to the client,” explains Tipler. “What makes us different is that we use practical drills in a dynamic environment. That’s the meat and potatoes of the business model.”

The vision for the business is to produce effective and successful goaltenders. “The big return on this is seeing these kids go places,” adds Tipler. He prioritizes having a transparent business model. “You can advertise all you want, but if you’re not good at what you do and how you do it, it’ll show eventually. I’m selling a service, that service is myself.” The ongoing goal Tipler has for his business is to have his own rink and training facility.

Tipler runs the school on his own and sources out to other local businesses for skating coaches, jersey productions, nutrition advisors, and other partnerships. “Local networking is extremely important to the business,” he says. Tipler started playing hockey during his third semester at CCAC with direction from former athletic coordinator Chuck Bell. Playing with CCAC was the start of Tipler’s hockey career. “I had knocked out all of my general education credits. I had to take so many electives that semester,” he adds. “My favorite was pottery. I was so bad at it.”

Tipler knew his heart wasn’t in college, and had gained a passion for hockey and working with people on improving themselves. “I graduated from CCAC, then took an opportunity to follow Mike Bergren, a highly decorated goaltending coach, and learn coaching techniques from him,” he explains. “Absorbed everything I possibly could, learning from him.” Tipler highly recommends attending a community college. “You’re here to get better. That’s what you’re here to do. Don’t scoff at community college, don’t rush into a four-year university.”

When he decided to open the school, Tipler started it with no financial backing. “Everyone said, ‘what are you going to do? You have to go back to college.’ I said I wanted to start a goalie school. Everyone looked at me like I was speaking Chinese,” he reflects. “The first person to support me was my dad. He told me to go after it, helped as much as he could.”

When it comes to work ethic, Tipler refuses any excuse for the success of his business. “You don’t get lucky if you don’t work hard.” He spends at least 50 hours a week with goal tending, serves at a local MadMex, and bartends at the Crafty Jackalope in Bridgeville. “If you’re passionate enough about something, and you work hard enough, you can get a lot farther than you ever expected.”