It is with great pleasure that we announce the Wildcat Girls Hockey program coaching staff for the upcoming 2018-2019 inaugural season! The 2018-2019 hockey season will be the first of many that our student athletes will compete as a Wildcat athletic program, and we are thrilled to provide our participants an incredible leadership team of highly skilled and knowledgeable coaches!
We have secured four female leaders of highest character and varied experiences to serve our student athletes and prepare them for lifelong learning on and off the ice! Let’s meet our staff:
Wildcat Co-Head Coach Jennifer Hempel
Hockey has always been a passion for Coach Jen Hempel. Jen grew up playing boys’ youth hockey, Mites through two years of Bantam A in the metro area. She continued her hockey career with the Minnesota Thoroughbreds, played high school hockey in Hopkins and participated in numerous US Olympic hockey camps in Lake Placid, New York. Following a remarkable high school career, Coach Hempel became an outstanding leader as a member of the University of Minnesota, Duluth Women’s Hockey Team from 1999-2003. Not only was Coach Hempel a 3 Time National Champion as a member of the Bulldog’s team, but she scored the first two goals in the first of three national championship title games! In 2003, Jen was named the 2003 “Spirit of the North Award” recipient, which is awarded to a UMD Varsity women’s hockey player from the state of Minnesota who exemplifies Julie Engberg’s passion and dedication to the sport and community. Following her career at UMD, Coach Hempel played two seasons with the Minnesota Whitecaps. In 2015, Jen’s competitive nature continued as she successfully competed in the Red Bull Crashed Ice downhill event in St. Paul, MN. In addition to many years on the ice as a player, Jen has coached both boys and girls youth teams, high school hockey, including two years with the Breakaway Hockey Program and coached at the Division 3 level. In addition to serving as a role model coaching hockey, Jen is a special education paraprofessional at Bayview Elementary in Waconia. Jen currently resides in Waconia, MN with her fiancé and two soon-to-be step-children.
Wildcat Co-Head Coach Leah Johnson
Coach Leah Johnson’s enthusiasm for the sport of hockey has continued to flourish since her early introduction to the game at a very young age. Coach Johnson grew up “on the ice” in Chanhassen and earned the opportunity to play five years of varsity hockey for the Chan/Chaska High School Program. After a successful and enjoyable high school career, Leah attended Gustavus Adolphus College where she studied Elementary Education and played four years of college hockey for the Gusties. Leah was instrumental in the Gusties two NCAA Frozen Four appearances where her leadership skills as a member of the team shined through. Coach Johnson graduated with a degree from Gustavus inclusive of a minor in Coaching and started her coaching career in the Minnetonka Youth Hockey Association. Leah served as the head coach of U10A then U12A for the past three seasons before making the transition to high school hockey. Last fall, Coach Johnson coached in the OS Hockey Elite High School League and continues to coach in the league this spring. Coach Johnson shared about her coaching philosophy; “my coaching style is similar to how I teach in the classroom with high expectations for my students and athletes. I strive to develop every athlete physically, mentally and emotionally while cultivating a competitive love for the game.” Coach Johnson currently teaches 4th grade at Bayview Elementary.
Wildcat Assistant Coach Erin McNeill
Coach Erin McNeill also grew up in Chanhassen, where she played four years of Varsity hockey for the Chaska/Chanhassen High School program. After high school, she attended Concordia Moorhead where she played 4 years of college hockey with the Cobbers. Coach McNeill studied Social Work and is now a social worker for individuals with Developmental Disabilities. After graduation, Erin started her coaching career in 2015 with the Minnetonka Youth Hockey Association. Erin coached along side, Coach Johnson for 3 seasons coaching a U10A and U12A hockey team. In 2016, Erin began coaching the Junior Varsity high school hockey team with Hopkins/St. Louis Park as well. Coach McNeill stated that she is “very excited to begin coaching the Wildcats and to get the first inaugural season started!”
Wildcat Assistant Coach Colleen Stanley
Coach Colleen Stanley loved the goalie position as a High School hockey player in Chaska. After high school, she attended St. Cloud State University and earned her Bachelors degree in Special Education. Colleen is currently in her 9th year as a Special Education teacher at Waconia High School. Also during this tenure, Coach Stanley earned her Masters degree in Differentiated Instruction from Concordia, St. Paul. Coach Stanley has been involved with the Waconia Youth Hockey organization as a goalie coach and has also assisted with the Chaska High School girls hockey program. Colleen lives in Mayer, is married, and has three boys.
Welcome and congratulations coaches on your selection as the inaugural coaching staff of the Wildcat Girls Hockey program! The Wildcat coaching staff has scheduled a student athlete meeting for anyone currently in grades 6th-11th interested in joining the Wildcat Girls Hockey program for Tuesday morning, April 17th at 7:30am in the WHS groups space, C107. We look forward to seeing you there!
In addition, a student athlete, parent and coaching staff meeting will be scheduled for the beginning of May to share general Wildcat high school program information as well as summer programming opportunities. More information to come!