Head Coach / Assistant GM
Chris has been a part of the Wenatchee Wild coaching staff since the teams inception in 2008. As assistant coach, Chris has helped and worked with 8 NCAA Division I, 3 WHL and 2 NHL drafted goaltenders. He has been named Head Coach for the 2020-21 season.
Prior to joining the Wenatchee Wild, Chris spent the 2007-08 season as a graduate assistant at Division I Minnesota State University – Mankato (WCHA).
Chris played college hockey for the Minnesota State University -Mankato Mavericks from 2003 to 2007, when he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Sports Management and a minor in Marketing. Chris was a member of the WCHA All-Academic team from 2004-2007 and received the Mavericks Most Improved Player in 2004-05. He was honored in the 2007 WCHA Final Five program for his volunteer work in the Mankato community.
Before moving on to college, Chris played junior hockey from 2001 to 2003 in the BCHL and was a member of the 2001-02 Fred Page Cup Champion Victoria Salsa.
Chris and his wife Julie live in Wenatchee with their son Cooper and their dogs, Buster and Madison.
Associate Head Coach / Director of Recruiting
Leigh Mendelson joined the Wenatchee Wild prior to the 2017-18 season in a dual role as both Associate Head Coach and Director of Recruiting. His coaching career is considerable, with over 10 seasons of experience at the junior level in both the NAHL and USHL. Add in four seasons of pro experience in the ECHL and AHL, and three seasons in Europe to go along with his three years of Division I college, and you’ve got a world of experience. With a focus on the defensive side of the game, his skill set serves as the perfect balance to the established Wild staff.
Matt joined the Wild for his first season in 2018-19. He has a Masters Degree in Athletic Training from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He’s worked with athletes in multiple sports, including hockey with the Omaha Lancers.
He’s excited to be a part of the Wild program and looks forward to continuing exploring the Northwest.
Pepe has been with the Wild franchise since the beginning. It’s been said, “If you don’t get along with Pepe, it’s probably YOU!” Pepe lives in Wenatchee and manages rental properties when he’s not at the rink.
Ryan McKelvie brings a wealth of experience at the NCAA and Junior A levels to the Wenatchee Wolves. Most recently, McKelvie served as the head coach at the Lake Forest College, an NCAA DIII team. In just three seasons, McKelvie was able to transform the struggling program into a nationally competitive program with the team having their best conference record in over twenty years. For his efforts, McKelvie was named the NCHA Coach of the Year in 2014. Prior to his time at Lake Forest, McKelvie spent a year as an assistant coach at the University of Alaska-Anchorage, and two years as a graduate assistant coach at Bemidji State University, both NCAA D1 programs. In addition to his coaching experience at the NCAA level, McKelvie spent two seasons as the Associate Head Coach for the Wenatchee Wild (NAHL) where they had a two year expansion team record of 92-33-7 and won two NAHL West Division titles. They had 17 NCAA D1 commitments and 2 NHL draft picks, which was the most in the NAHL during that time. McKelvie holds a master’s degree in Sports Science and a bachelor’s teaching degree in Physical Education K-12. As a player, McKelvie was a three year assistant captain at the NCAA D1 level for Minnesota State University- Mankato.
Assistant Coach for WAHA/Wild Development Teams
Academic and Billet Coordinator – U18
Coach Brodie returns to the Wenatchee Valley for the first time since stepping foot on the ice as a player with the inaugural Wenatchee Wild team in 2008. In two seasons playing for the Wild, Brodie helped the team to back to back West Division titles and a Robertson Cup championship game appearance. His play in Wenatchee earned him a scholarship to play hockey at NCAA Division I Bemidji State University in the WCHA. Brodie played two years at BSU, where he was a two-time WCHA scholar athlete award winner and twice recognized on the Academic All-WCHA team, before transferring to Division III University of Wisconsin Stevens-Point. In two years at UWSP, Brodie was a CCM first team All-American, played in two Frozen Four National Championship games, was two-time first team all-conference, and led the conference in points for a defenseman. After graduating from UWSP with a Bachelor’s degree in Business with an emphasis in Entrepreneurship, Brodie went on to play professional hockey for the Stockton Thunder in the ECHL and the Columbus Cottonmouths in the SPHL. Much like when he played, Brodie brings energy and enthusiasm to the Wolves, all the while ready to learn and absorb information from all the wisdom that surrounds him with the coaching staff in the Wenatchee Wild organization.
Co-Head Coach U18, Assistant Coach U16, Player Development Coach U14 & U15, Spring Hockey Coordinator
Coach McTaggart comes to Wenatchee from the Yellowstone Quake of the NA3HL. McTaggart, a Seattle native, played his junior hockey with the Quake before seeing an opportunity to be an assistant coach of the team he once suited up for. Following two seasons coaching in Wyoming, he came back to Washington to help coach with the Team Seattle AAA program. After two years there, McTaggart crossed the border north into Canada, taking a role as head coach of the Banff Hockey Academy midget varsity team in Alberta. That, along with being an assistant coach on the midget prep team, consumed McTaggart’s time for the next four years. Deciding to come back to the United States, McTaggart went back to Yellowstone for his second stint with the Quake, being an assistant coach there once again. With deep hockey roots, McTaggart’s father, Jim, played in the NHL for the Washington Capitals, and coached in the WHL with the Seattle Thunderbirds after retiring. Jordan looks to help prepare players for the next level of hockey, using the wisdom and experience he’s gathered from the junior hockey ranks.
Assistant Coach for WAHA/Wild Development Teams
In the 2019-20 season, Coach Baxter entered his first season coaching the U15 team having spent the previous nine years coaching junior hockey in Missoula, Montana. During his tenure in Missoula, he was twice named Coach of the Year and compiled an impressive 277 wins. Prior to that, Baxter coached AAA in Colorado for both the Colorado Outlaws and the Rocky Mountain Wranglers. Coach Baxter prides himself on developing player’s both on and off the ice and has a long list of players that have moved onto play college hockey. As a player, Baxter played two years of junior hockey before moving onto play Division 1 hockey at the University of Connecticut. He currently lives in Missoula year-round with his wife Bridget and young daughter. Program director Ryan McKelvie had this to say on the addition of Baxter, “We are very excited to get a coach with Marcus’s qualifications to start our new U15 team and assist with our U14 team. I’ve known Marcus for over 15 years and know that our players are not only getting a great coach but a quality role model and mentor that will help them both on and off the ice.”
Aron Branam, CSCS, ACSM HFS & HFD
Aron has been in the health and fitness for over 20 years working with cardiopulmonary patients, orthopedic and neurological injuries as well as training athletes of all abilities. Aron worked with Men and Women’s Soccer at Montana State-Billings and later became the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Rocky Mountain College where he was responsible for developing training and conditioning programs for all varsity men and women’s sports. He also spent four years as the Director of Fitness Operations at the Seattle Athletic Club- Downtown overseeing all fitness aspects of the business.
Aron is currently the General Manager at the Gold’s Gyms of Wenatchee Valley and has been there for 6 years. He has been the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Wenatchee Wild since 2012.
Aron is a highly accredited health and fitness professional, certified as both a Health and Fitness Director and Specialist by the American College of Sports Medicine. He is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association.