Q & A with the New Owatonna Girls Hockey Coach
The first time Tony Cloud entered the Four Seasons Centre in Owatonna was during the Steele County Fair. He had his skates with him. He didn't need them. When I spoke with the new Owatonna High School girls hockey coach, ice was in the Austin-Wilcox Rink with summer youth programs taking place. The Dudley Otto Rink was dry.
Cloud was named as the Huskies coach June 19 to succeed Sarah Murray who left for St. Mary's University after one season with Owatonna. Cloud was the assistant last season for girls' hockey and soccer. He's got nearly a decade of coaching experience with Rogers High School. He graduated from Elk River High School in 2006. Cloud is currently a student at MSU-Mankato working on his math teaching license.
OHS Activities Director Marc Achterkirch said in a news release, "Tony brings a wealth of knowledge to the position and with being a part of the program last season, he will be able to hit the ice at full speed to advance our girls hockey program."
Below are excerpts from our conversation. Click on the full interview below to hear all of his comments.
Roy Koenig, KRFO Sports Director: I'm sure you're very excited. What's your reaction?
OHS girls hockey coach Tony Cloud: I'm very excited to continue to work with this group. It's going to be a big jump but I'm excited for the opportunity to continue to work with these kids, great group of girls that we had last year.
RK: What is your athletic background?
TC: I grew up playing hockey and soccer in Elk River. I've skated since I was three years old basically, so I haven't taken a winter off since then. Growing up in Elk River we always had the older groups that were going on to state tournaments in the 1990s and 2000s to look up to. So they built a reputation for us younger kids to live up to. We ended up going to state my junior year. After that, I started to coach hockey over at Rogers High School. I was actually working at the arena at the time and happen to see my old bantam coach working with the high school group.
RK: What did you learn from Sarah (Murray), a former Olympic coach and a national champion at the prep and college level?
TC: A lot of hockey aspects that I didn't necessarily know. She comes from a very rich hockey background. I knew there was a lot I could learn from her, worked really well together to help build our culture that we're going to keep establishing here with our girls' program. The every day working with her was a pleasure.
RK: What does 'culture' mean to you?
TC: I think culture for us means our team identity, trying to build a program that competes hard against the teams we're going to be facing. We've got tough section opponents with Farmington and the Lakeville teams, so building a culture of competitiveness and in unity. One of our girls' keywords last year was 'family.'
RK: Will there be a JV team again this coming winter?
TC: There will. We graduated two players and we are probably going to gain about eight or nine so we are actually adding to our program right now.
RK: What's happening in summer hockey?
TC: Sarah and I were able to set up our summer hockey training program. We're working with both the U-10 and U-12 groups. We're also working with our high school girls early in the morning. So they're getting up at 7 am, getting over here. This morning they were a little groggy, getting out of bed. But we get moving pretty quickly.
RK: What do things look like for the high school team this next season?
TC: We established our schedule pretty early. We've got a lot of tough competition. We're going to be going up to Lakeville/Farmington area for a Christmas tournament. We have a few of our other non-conference games. We are going up to Rogers, so I get to coach against my old coach. Hopefully, we are going to have a lot of fun with our returning corps with five defensive players returning out of our top six and 11 out of our 12 starting forwards and both goalies returning as well. A lot to look forward to this year.