by Lindsey Willhite | AHL On The Beat
On a beautiful Friday in late August, Scooter Vaughan woke up before the dawn. He slipped out of his door in Chicago, drove to the Chicago Wolves’ practice facility in Hoffman Estates and clicked on the lights in the team’s weight room by 6:45 a.m.
After a thorough workout, he joined 20 other players and Wolves assistant Bob Nardella on the ice for an extended skate and fundamentals work. Then came an informal scrimmage — one that began with Vaughan and another player tapping their sticks together three times to trigger an old-school faceoff for the puck.
Once the friendly scrimmage ended, as if he wasn’t sweaty enough, Vaughan peeled off his soaked hockey gear and returned to the weight room for another workout that concluded shortly after 11 a.m.
All the while, Vaughan’s smartphone buzzed and beeped and vibrated in his dressing room cubicle as texts and e-mails and calls poured in from all over the country.
You see, the 28-year-old veteran — who’s entering his third season as a valuable, versatile player for the Wolves — doesn’t just devote himself to hockey.
He’s a Christmas ornament inventor. He’s an investor in a microgreens farm in Florida. He’s a co-operator of summer hockey camps with former Wolves teammate Jared Nightingale. He’s a guitarist, a skateboarder, a world traveler, a networker, a future millionaire, a workaholic.
Vaughan may have stopped working out his body at 11 a.m. on that beautiful Friday in late August, but his brain — like his smartphone — never stops whirring.
“Hockey’s not lasting forever,” Vaughan said. “But even if it did, it’s still not enough. After hockey practice, are you just supposed to sit on the couch and watch Netflix and play video games? You do that until evening and then you make your food? There’s lots of time to be productive in other aspects of life.
“I think about ideas all day. Probably the only time I’m not is when I’m physically on the ice. When I’m working out, they’re still going through my head.”
Vaughan’s hockey career began while growing up in southern California, but it has taken him to St. Louis to the University of Michigan and several other stops across the United States.
Everywhere he has lived, he has made friends and acquaintances whose interests are as thoughtful and varied as his own. And those friends and acquaintances love introducing him to their friends and acquaintances — and vice versa.
“My network is definitely very strong if I need something done,” Vaughan said. “Like (if someone calls and says), ‘I’m starting a business and I need a graphic designer, I’m like, ‘Well, I’ve worked with him. Here, have this guy.’
“I would say I have someone that knows everything. I have a really strong network of people all over the map. Artists. Businessmen. It might be lawyers. It might be doctors. It might be whatever. I have a lot of artsy friends — whether they’re in the music biz, the movie biz, if they put on music festivals, if they paint, if they build websites, graphic design. It’s everything.”
For example, Vaughan and Jeff Ceccacci became close buddies while playing hockey together as kids in Placentia, Calif. Years later, Ceccacci played on a junior team with British Columbia native Greg Tyshynski. Vaughan and Tyshynski became tight because of their mutual friendship with Ceccacci.
While Vaughan moved on to professional hockey, Tyshynski moved on to get a college degree in molecular biology and psychology. He’s now the managing partner of Aquafarm Organics LLC — a large greenhouse farm in the middle of Florida that grows and delivers nutrient-rich microgreens to upscale hotels, restaurants and grocery stores.
Vaughan invested some dollars to help the project get underway, but he also invested his time. At one point, Tyshynski walked around his greenhouse and warehouse while FaceTiming with Vaughan hundreds of miles away. He’d point his phone at various areas and Vaughan offered ideas on how to improve the place aesthetically.
“I was reluctant to do anything creative because I have zero vision,” Tyshynski said. “We just successfully finished the project — I used probably 75 percent of his suggestions.”
Vaughan and Tyshynski aren’t just business partners. They’re the type of best friends who, if one has a day off, he’ll fly where the other one is just to hang out. That’s how they wound up skateboarding together on a flawless fall afternoon in Chicago. Tyshynski flew into O’Hare on a Wednesday and was back in southern California on a Thursday.
“He’ll do whatever,” Tyshynski said. “Always down no matter what. If I want him to do something and he’s on the other side of the country, he’ll be like, ‘I’m there.’ And he’s there the next day. He’s always down for an adventure.”
Electric Family is a five-year-old California-based company that describes itself as “streetwear inspired by the music festival culture with an overall mindset to better the world.” To that end, their ventures include partnering with popular electronic artists and producers to develop bracelets that are popular and fashionable — yet raise money for charity and awareness along the way.
“I met Scooter back when I was living in San Diego through mutual friends,” said Electric Family co-founder Drew Nilon. “When I started Electric Family with some buddies of ours, Scooter made himself available to help us in the early days without asking for anything in return. He reached out to his network to help us grow the brand simply because he wanted to help. He was pivotal in helping to get the brand off the ground.
“I have seen him work tirelessly to make his hockey dream come true, which has been incredible to see. There were many times when he said no to going out with the boys so that he could train and get his hockey game better. He has been a great friend and a fantastic source of inspiration over the years.”
Where does Vaughan get his drive to do and be and create every waking hour of the day? Look no further than his parents: Charles “Skip” Vaughan and Orian Southall.
Skip Vaughan earned a degree in chemical engineering at the University of Virginia and serves as a market senior director for PepsiCo in Atlanta. Southall also graduated from the University of Virginia before completing her juris doctorate at the University of North Carolina. She has served as a lawyer for nearly 30 years.
Scooter is their only child and many of their habits and traits have become ingrained in him in some fashion or another. Scooter describes his father as a workaholic. Southall used to hand-paint the individual Christmas cards that the family mailed out.
“My husband is very much a type-A personality,” Southall said. “I think working hard is genetic. He gets that from him. Scooter is not afraid at all of hard work. I hope I add a little creativity to that mix.
“He was always this pie-in-the-sky, got-these-dreams, have-these-thoughts type of kid. I would always say to him every day, either before bed or sometime during the day: ‘The difference between success and failure is perseverance.’ ”
That’s why Vaughan wakes up before the dawn to try to make his NHL dream come true. It’s also why the NHL dream is just one of many he pursues.
Tyshynski believes if Vaughan devoted the same amount of time to his guitar and singing that he does to hockey, he’d be able to enjoy a career in music. While that might sound appealing, the artistic side of Vaughan’s brain might be no match for the business side.
He might be the only professional hockey player who doesn’t plan to make his first million from the sport he plays.
“I want to have a self-sustaining business with more than a dozen employees,” Vaughan said. “I don’t want to say money is everything, but being a millionaire is something that’s on my mind and something that I want to do. Property investment — you can’t do it without real estate and property. It’s something that I’m looking to get into.”
Plan on him giving it all he’s got.