What others might view as an enviable background has been a part of Matt McElligott's life for so long that he knows he can't take it for granted.
Because his father, Bob McElligott, has been a radio announcer for the Columbus Blue Jackets since the 2009-10 season, the senior goaltender for the Gahanna Lincoln hockey team has gotten to know members of the professional organization such as goaltending coach Manny Legace and Jackets goalie Joonas Korpisalo.
Matt McElligott, who attends Hartley but plays for the Lions because Hartley doesn't have a hockey program, was introduced to the sport more than a decade ago, when his father served as the play-by-play voice of the Syracuse Crunch, the Blue Jackets' AHL affiliate at the time, from 2000-09.
"It's been a blast," Matt McElligott said. "I get a lot of opportunities that a lot of kids wish they had, and for me it's kind of weird. I know 'Korpi' really well. It's nice seeing the way the professionals handle themselves. It's been that way all my life, so it's kind of crazy to go back and think on it, but getting to be around and watching my dad do that, he's been doing it for a long time."
With McElligott leading the way this winter, the Lions are well on their way to posting a significantly better record than they did each of the past two seasons.
After he shared time in goal with 2017 graduate Chris Henestofel during his freshman season, the Lions underwent a coaching change and had a limited number of experienced players for the 2017-18 season and won just two games.
That season, McElligott elected to compete for the Dayton Stealth AAA travel team, where he split time in goal.
He returned to play for the Lions last season when they went 10-24-0-2 and has been in goal for nearly all of their games this season.
Gahanna was 8-12 overall and 4-7 in the CHC-Blue Division after losing to Columbus Academy 4-3 on Jan. 10 and beating DeSales 9-0 on Jan. 11. McElligott was in goal for the win over the Stallions, as well as league wins against DeSales (7-0 on Jan. 5), Dublin Scioto (11-2 on Jan. 2) and Watterson (3-0 on Dec. 7).
McElligott also started in wins over DeSales (14-0 on Nov. 29), DeSales (13-0 on Dec. 1), Troy (7-0 on Dec. 8) and Hudson Western Reserve (3-1 on Dec. 22).
The six shutouts he has posted are a program record.
"We've had some ups and downs, but I've liked what I've seen," coach Kevin Schodorf said. "Some of the sophomores have stepped up and added some value to our team and some of our new guys are doing a really good job, too. Matt McElligott is our starting goalie and saves around 90 percent of the shots he faces, and he has the school shutout record to pass Henestofel."
McElligott first got interested in hockey because he "loved the gear." It also helped that he had a knack for the position at an early age.
Because his father also has broadcasted minor league baseball, McElligott was introduced to that sport at an early age as well.
Last spring for the Hawks' baseball team, McElligott went 3-3 on the mound with a 2.56 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 41 innings. The right-hander, who has experience as a starter and reliever and also has spent time as a designated hitter and outfielder, plans to play baseball for Sinclair Community College.
He helped the Hawks earn a district title in 2018 and a district runner-up finish last spring.
This fall, McElligott used his film editing skills to assist the football program.
"I had the opportunity (to play junior hockey) when I was younger and I didn't take it, so sophomore year I figured it would be a good time," McElligott said. "Last year, I figured it would be good to come back and finish out my high school career here. You always grow a little bit playing at a higher level. We've quadrupled our wins this year."
Swimmers tuning up for OCC, postseason
The swimming and diving teams have a pair of dual meets remaining before competing in the OCC-Ohio Division meet Jan. 26 at Kenyon College.
The Lions took 17 athletes to the Northeast Classic held Jan. 10 and 11 at Branin Natatorium in Canton, site of the state meet.
"I pretty much try to get them to swim every event throughout the season," coach Jeff Riegler said. "Some meets, you can be a little more flexible than others, especially because our girls squad is pretty deep and versatile. The boys are a little leaner this year (in participation numbers). (In early January) we had about four to five boys out (of the lineup), so it made it a little more interesting."
One of the bright spots early on took place when the girls team's 400-yard freestyle relay of sophomores Gwyneth Payton and Reagan Reetz and freshmen Marie Belli and Stella Brofford swam a program-record 3 minutes, 40.98 seconds in the Ned Reeb Invitational on Dec. 13 at Ohio State. The previous mark had stood since 1994.
"I thought we'd break it this year, but I just didn't know we'd break it so early," Riegler said.
Among the top competitors for the boys team, according to Riegler, have been seniors Johnny Belli, Darin Fields and Derek Yu, juniors Caleb Gilger, McCord Riegler and Nathan Vogelgesang and sophomore Morgan Govekar.
Girls team starting to 'turn around'
The girls basketball team is on a four-game winning streak after beating Pickerington Central 68-63 on Jan. 10.
Gahanna, which had lost to the Tigers 61-56 on Dec. 3, is 7-6 overall and 5-1 in the OCC-Ohio.
The Lions continue league action Thursday, Jan. 16, at home against Reynoldsburg, which they beat 74-62 on Dec. 6.
"We're just trying to get a little streak going," coach Ron Bailey said. "The real part is that the girls are staying together, still believing and it seems like it's going to turn around."
Senior guard Edyn Battle became the program's all-time leading scorer during a 66-45 win over Olentangy Liberty on Jan. 7.
Battle scored 26 points in the win over Central and has 1,223 career points. She is averaging 17.5 points on the season.
"We've been trying to work on our rotations and continue to try to build our identity," Bailey said. "We know we love to get out and pressure the ball and get out and run, just perfecting our craft and getting everybody to buy in to the new roles they might have."
Below are the coming schedules for the Gahanna Lincoln boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, hockey, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Jan. 17 -- At Reynoldsburg. The Lions beat the Raiders 67-43 on Dec. 6.
Jan. 18 -- At Logan
Jan. 21 -- At New Albany
*Jan. 16 -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg. The Lions beat the Raiders 74-62 on Dec. 6.
Jan. 19 -- Centerville in Classic in the Country at Berlin Hiland
Jan. 21 -- Home vs. New Albany
*Jan. 22 -- Reynoldsburg at HP Lanes
Jan. 18 -- Parma Normandy and Kettering Alter in Ehrnfelt Memorial Tournament at OBM Arena in Strongsville
Jan. 19 -- Harbor Creek (Pa.) in Ehrnfelt Memorial Tournament
Jan. 20 -- TBD in Ehrnfelt Memorial Tournament
Jan. 22 -- Beavercreek at Nationwide Arena
SWIMMING & DIVING
Jan. 17 -- Home vs. Big Walnut
Jan. 18 -- Home vs. Watkins Mem-orial
*Jan. 16 -- At Lancaster