Girls Hockey Team Thriving Under New Coaching Duo

Coach+Taylor+Williamson+corrals+an+excited+group+of+girls%2C+ready+to+face+off+in+their+first+matchup+against+Edina.+Credit+to+Eric+Schindler.

Coach Taylor Williamson corrals an excited group of girls, ready to face off in their first matchup against Edina. Credit to Eric Schindler.

Katie Imdieke, Senior Writer

Hockey is more than a physical game, to this brand new father-daughter coaching duo; teaching the girls that hockey is all about your mindset.

“It’s crazy how much they are learning from me, but also how much I continue to learn from these girls every single day,” said co-head coach Taylor Williamson. Williamson and her father, Dean, took over the Girls Hockey program after former head coach, Jess Scott, stepped down at the end of last season.

The father-daughter duo has an extensive list of credentials starting with their own hockey careers with the Minnesota Gophers. Taylor, daughter of Dean Williamson, finished her senior season in the 2018-19 season with the Gophers. She was the captain for the Edina Girls Hockey team in 2014-15 when she was a senior in high school. She won Ms. Hockey in 2015 and Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year in 2015 as well. Taylor is the granddaughter of Murray Williamson, two time coach of the US Olympic Men’s Hockey team after being named All-American in 1959 while playing for the Gophers. Son of Murray Williamson, and the other half of the coaching duo is Dean Williamson. He has coached every level, from youth hockey, all the way up to Division 1 very successfully, and he also had a very successful playing career as an Edina Hornet followed by a Minnesota Gopher.

When asked about coaching together, Taylor said “His philosophy is my philosophy. As a brand new coach coming together with a seasoned coach, we share the responsibilities and make a dynamic duo.” A dynamic duo for sure, all of the girls pointed out that each coach brings something different to the team. Captain and forward, Sophie Urban, pointed out how well they work together, and what they both bring to this group, “Taylor is so connected to the game. She is fresh out of college, it’s awesome how she can critique little parts of your physical game. Taylor is extremely good at fixing your game off of the ice as well. Dean brings an old school look to the game which is awesome because he will call you out, which is great when the other girls and I need to be accountable for our actions. Alongside of that, he is right there with Taylor about the off-ice play, and knowing how to get you mentally prepared for the game,” she said.

Senior Forward and Captain, Sophie Urban, skates towards the goal against Hill-Murray. Credit to Eric Schindler.

The coach’s philosophies and reiteration that hockey is a mental game have made a huge impact on the players. Junior forward Gretchen Branton said “For me, the coaches have been focusing on our mental game as well as our physical game. The philosophy that really sticks out to me is the CLEAR philosophy. My line gets together before a game to talk about which aspect we are going to focus on today.” The Clarkson commit is laser focused on strengthening her mental game this season with the help of her new coaches. The CLEAR mindset is Coach Taylor Williamson’s most repeated philosophy that is an acronym for Commitment, Love, Energy, Accountability, and Resilience. This is one of the many mindsets that the coaches want for the girls to keep in the forefront of their minds on the ice. Urban also said that she picks a CLEAR word to have on her mind based on the opponent she is facing off against, “Against Edina, I will be resilient. I focus on winning certain battles. When I am struggling with my mental game, I’ll focus on love. I’ll focus on my love of the game, just playing with passion, and being there for my teammates. Playing for the people in the stands and just playing for myself.”

Junior forward, Gretchen Branton, shoots the puck during their first matchup against Edina this season, “They’re definitely one of our biggest rivals,” she said. Credit to Eric Schindler.

A 9-6-1 start to the season shows the resilience of the players, but not the dynamic of this talented team. A big game coming last Saturday versus the Minnetonka Skippers ending with a tie showed the Lake Conference the strength of this Trojan squad. With two Division one commits and a couple more expected, this team has incredible depth. The start was phenomenal for “shooting out of the cannon,” as Coach Taylor said, playing very tough opponents right off of the bat. “We started great with some high scoring games, but then lost focus. We couldn’t get started until the second or third period, when it was too late. Towards the midseason, we started picking it up again. We know now what we need to do to reach our goals,” says Urban. With some big wins at the start of the season, and redemption games coming up against previous losses, the team is ready for whoever comes on their ice next with their strengthened mental game, thanks to the new coaching duo in Dean and Taylor Williamson and the hard work of phenomenal athletes.

Come catch the Girls Hockey team, led by the dynamic coaching duo in action on Tuesday, January 7th. Game is at the Plymouth Ice Center versus a strong, 11-5 Eden Prairie Eagles team. You don’t want to miss this classic Lake Conference Matchup. Puck drop is at 7:00pm.

The coaches talk to the girls following a well played game versus Edina. “Their resilience is amazing and they are such a great group,” said Coach Taylor Williamson. Credit to Eric Schindler.