GLENDALE – When the Coyotes arrive at work for home games they are always greeted by a friendly face. As a Global Spectrum employee at Gila River Arena, 88-year-old Lou Monaco is the rink’s senior doorman, if you will, for the coaches and players.
“Lou is always the first person I see when I get to the arena on a game day and he’s always excited to see you,” Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. “He always has a smile on his face and is upbeat. He’s such a personable man and interesting man, and someone who exemplifies what it is to be a good person.”
“He always has a smile on his face and is upbeat. He’s such a personable man and interesting man, and someone who exemplifies what it is to be a good person.”-- Shane Doan
on Lou Monaco
Monaco has worked in parking for Coyotes home games since the team moved to Arizona in 1996. For the transplanted New Yorker, it’s a labor of love.
“People ask me all the time, ‘You’re 88 years old, what do you want to go to work for?’ and I always tell them ‘What, are you kidding? This is my life,’” said Monaco, who moved to the Valley just a few months after the Coyotes did from Winnipeg. “I enjoy going to work because I get to see all these people and they’re so nice. I can’t wait to get here every day.”
Monaco starts his workday at the gate where the coaches and players drive their vehicles into their parking lot. It is there where he briefly chats with them as they arrive and wishes them well in the game that night. Monaco said he likes to keep the exchanges short and sweet.
“I usually just say hello and wish them a good day,” Monaco said. “I don’t want to get in too deep with them and ask them what they did today or anything like that. But I do tell them to a have a great night and that it’s nice to see them. And they reciprocate. Sometimes we’ll talk a little bit more but we don’t get into big, long conversations. Just like me, they’ve got their work schedule, too. I just enjoy their company for a few seconds. The fact that they stop and say ‘Hi Lou’ means a lot to me.”
After all the coaches and players have arrived, Monaco shifts over to the family lot and later, after the games, he helps people exit the arena lots.
|Lou Monaco. Photo by Dave Vest |
Monaco served in the Navy during World War II. After that, he was a milkman for 22 years and then he sold pharmaceutical supplies before moving to Arizona. He said he fell in love with the place after visiting family members who lived here.
“I just decided this place was for me and I came out here,” he said. “It’s the best move I’ve ever made.”
When Monaco isn’t working, he’s often watching sports on TV. The longtime bachelor enjoys recording the Coyotes home games and then watching them as soon as he gets home from work.
Monaco never played ice hockey, but he remembers playing roller hockey in the streets when he was a kid. He recalls making a goal out of a big piece of cardboard and then making goalie pads out of leftover cardboard and serving as the goalie. Monaco was also a good baseball player as a young man and remembers fondly attending an open tryout for the New York Giants baseball team a few months before shipping out with the Navy.
But more than anything, Monaco seems to enjoy people and developing friendships. He stills considers many former Coyotes players including Daniel Briere, Keith Carney, Darcy Hordichuk and Landon Wilson as pals.
Jeff Jones, who serves as Director of Parking for Global Spectrum, says Monaco is an ideal employee and well loved.
“When I think of parking and traffic being a positive first and last impression, Louie is one of those people,” Jones said. “Lou always has a smile on his face and is ready to tackle any task put in front of him. His connection not only with the guys in the locker room but their families is amazing because he remembers so much. Even players that have changed teams or retired will still stop to talk with Louie when they are in town. He’s a real testament on what a positive attitude will get you in life - lasting friendships. I always tell my wife and kids that when I grow up I want to be like Louie.”