Widner hired as girls' hockey coach
The Lake Superior School District Board approved the hire of Neva Widner as the North Shore Storm girls' hockey coach during its meeting Sept. 12 in Silver Bay.
The hire was made after a four month search for a new coach following the resignation the entire coaching staff in May.
Widner began playing hockey as a second-grader and played for the varsity team as a seventh-grader at St. Francis-North Branch. A team captain as a sophomore in high school, she went on to play two years at the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, Minn., an NCAA Division III team, before hanging up her skates to focus on her studies.
Widner said she always hoped to return to the sport one day and even took some coaching classes while at St. Benedict to prepare to take one day step into that role. She feels her experience playing for a cooperative team and a team that uses students from seventh to 12th grade will be an asset as she takes over the Storm program. She also came along at a time when hockey was becoming a much more serious sport for girls.
"I have a player's perspective of the sport and grew up playing the game when girls' hockey really became an athletic sport more than a social club," Widner said. "I know what it's like being a seventh-grader playing against high school seniors. In addition, I had the benefit of having truly fantastic high school coaches that taught me a lot."
In addition to Widner, William Kelley Schools elementary physical education teacher and dean of students Jessup Pelkey was hired as an assistant and goalie coach. Pelkey played hockey at Hermantown High School with a couple of the Hawks' state tournament teams.
Widner said she is looking forward to getting to know the players and returning to the ice this winter.
"We're excited for a new season for the North Shore Storm girls' hockey team," she said. "My goal is for the girls to have a competitive, fun season they are proud of and become the best student-athletes — and team — they can be. Our season is going to focus on hard work, positive communication and playing good North Shore hockey."