Minnetonka Head Coach Sean Goldsworthy directed his players during a recent practice. Photo: AARON LAVINSKY * firstname.lastname@example.org
Sean Goldsworthy’s lifelong hockey journey has come full circle. Again.
A captain on the Minnetonka team that placed third at the state tournament in 1990, Goldsworthy was named the school’s boys’ hockey coach in April. He has the Skippers off to a 2-0-1 start and ranked third in Class 2A.
It’s the second time Goldsworthy has returned to one of his alma maters. He was a standout player at St. Olaf before he returned to coach the Oles for 19 years. Goldsworthy figured he would coach hockey again after stepping down at St. Olaf in 2016, but he had never considered coming back to his hometown.
“The opportunity to come back to Minnetonka was really not on my radar,” Goldsworthy said. “At the time I wasn’t looking for the opportunity to coach high school hockey. This is probably the only place that would have been a good fit. I find it very rewarding to go back to a community that helped shape me as a young man and serve as a coach and a mentor. Minnetonka is a community that really means a lot to me.”
On the ice, Goldsworthy is working to make the coaching transition as smooth as possible. He replaced Brian Urick, who left behind a program with plenty of returning talent coming off a 15-12 season, as well as knowledgeable assistant coaches in Steve Aronson and Mike Johnson. Urick was one of the people who convinced Goldsworthy to return to Minnetonka.
“It’s just a fantastic group of young men,” Goldsworthy said. “Their chemistry is outstanding. They really believe in each other and believe in the team concept. It’s been really fun to come back and shape them a little bit and build on what Brian Urick has started the last couple years.”
One of Goldsworthy’s players, senior captain Luke Loheit, is his nephew. Loheit — along with Goldsworthy’s daughters, who play at Northfield High School — comprise the family’s third generation of hockey players going back to Sean’s father, former North Stars great Bill Goldsworthy. Loheit said it’s been easy having his uncle as his coach.
“He’s always helped me with hockey,” Loheit said. “It’s hasn’t really been hard to put that aside and see him as a coach. He’s really straightforward and intentional with everything he does. He has a purpose with everything. I think that’s been good for us.”
Another senior captain, forward Joe Molenaar, said Goldsworthy relates to his players through his enthusiasm and shared experience as a former Skippers player.
“He tells us he’d do anything to be able to be playing with us,” Molenaar said. “He said if he knew it would be this fun to coach for his old school, he would have been here 10 years ago. It makes him that much more excited that it’s his old school. Sometimes it’s like he’s another player, like a fourth captain. He comes into the locker room and wakes us up.”
Goldsworthy is happy to be coaching in a place where that enthusiasm is matched by the community. He said Minnetonka’s youth program, resources and support structure help make it one of the top hockey programs in the state.
“There’s a tremendous amount of energy and that’s a big reason to come back as well,” he said. “There are fantastic people who are very encouraging, and the environment is very positive. It brings people together.”
Nothing would bring Minnetonka hockey together more than the program’s first state championship. The Skippers have reached the state tournament five times, most recently in 2010 when they lost to Edina in the 2A title game. The current junior and senior classes each won state championships at the Bantam level and are looking to join forces for another title.
“I think we’re capable of winning the state tournament,” Loheit said. “We’ve got a great group that has been playing together since Day 1 in Mites and has grown up loving the game and having this dream to win the state tournament. We struggled a little last year, but now I think we’re ready to do something.”