Kersey wins Hockey Coach of the Year
It is an unspoken rule.
Colorado high school hockey is the fiefdom of Colorado Springs. They’re very proprietary about their hockey. Cheyenne Mountain, Air Academy, Palmer, Liberty and, yes, even Coronado and Mitchell believe the game is theirs and theirs alone.
Mountain schools like Aspen, Summit, Steamboat and Battle Mountain, playing high school hockey? Newbies.
Don’t they only know how to ski up there?
Within that context, it makes Battle Mountain hockey head coach Jade Kersey’s accomplishment all the more impressive.
At last weekend’s season-ending awards banquet, Kersey picked up the Colorado High School Hockey Coach of the Year Award, as voted by his fellow coaches – including those in the Springs.
“It is special to be recognized by your peers,” Kersey said. “The great thing about accepting an award from your peers is that they understand what goes into and they understand, even though, a Coach of the Year is an individual accolade, it is really representative of the whole team. Our boys made us look good every single night.”
And hard to ignore. In Kersey’s two seasons, the Huskies have piled up a 36-4 record, two Metro Conference crowns and two state-semifinal appearances. This year, the Huskies went 19-2, with their only losses coming by one goal each to Kent Denver.
“Jade definitely knows his stuff,” junior Huskies forward Austin Chow said. “He’s been around the game his whole life. He is probably one of the greatest technical coaches I’ve had knowledge-wise. He knows his stuff, his systems. It’s great for him to get that award. It was obviously a very emotional thing for him getting that award.”
The Huskies spent most of the season ranked No. 1 in the polls in 2003-04. And, when he wasn’t directing Battle Mountain hockey, Kersey was a rink rat, scouting the competition.
“I’m excited for him,” said senior Jason Chase. “He spent a lot of time going around and scouting teams. The other teams knew he was doing that. He definitely worked hard for it. I think he deserved what he got. It’s just too bad that his team didn’t come out on top.”
Kersey stepped into a very difficult situation two years ago when he accepted the Huskies’ job as well as the title of executive director of the Vail Junior Hockey Association. He was following the extremely popular, successful – and controversial – Ken Bielski, who led the Huskies to the state finals in their first season.
They were big shoes to fill. Kersey’s steady demeanor and strict disciplinary approach kept the Huskies on the road to success.
“Jade did a great job with the program after we had such a successful year with Bielski,” Huskies captain P.J. Bevan said. “Jade is such a smart hockey coach and prepares his team as well as anyone could.”
None of this escapes the attention of Huskies athletics director Fred Koettertiz.
“What Jade does off the ice, as an educator and a coach, is equally as important as all the success he’s brought to them on the ice,” Koetteritz said.
Koetteritz cited the team’s required study halls and dress-code rules as examples.
Of course, a head coach can only be as good as his assistants, so Kersey spread the praise around to Matt Hovey and Marty Walsh.
“The other people who are involved are our assistant coaches in Matt Hovey and Marty Walsh,” Kersey said. “Being the head coach, obviously you set the direction, but if your assistant coaches aren’t on the same page with you, then you’re not going to get a lot accomplished. They worked tireless hours and they were always committed.”
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.