MONUMNET — New Lewis-Palmer hockey coach Kevin Margarucci used to joke around with his friends about what it would be like to all be on the same coaching staff.
It was hypothetical and didn't gain a whole lot of traction. Until Margarucci was named as the new head coach of the Rangers in April. All of a sudden, the prospect of his friends joining him seemed like a legitimate possibility. No one was going to blink an eye at Cody Leaver, the man Margarucci wanted to run the defense.
Leaver looks like he belongs in a hockey rink.
Katie Holmgren might warrant a double-take, though. She'll be with Lewis-Palmer every step of the way this season. And she plans on playing a significant role in helping the Rangers get back to competing for a state championship.
“We’ve known each other for a long time so we have familiarity," Margarucci said. "We actually joked about it, if I got the head coaching job because coach Cody… the three of us are really good friends. We were just talking about how funny it would be if we were all on the same staff together."
Upon the retirement of Hal Jordan an Margarucci taking over the program, he wanted the best hockey minds he knew right there with him. It just so happened that one of them was a female.
But that didn't matter to any of them. Holmgren certainly has the hockey background. She played in high school in Minnesota and collegiately at Iowa State.
After college she moved to Denver for a job and continued to play the game as much as she could. She got involved with USA Hockey and moved to Colorado Springs where coaching all of a sudden presented itself as a realistic avenue.
“I had always wanted to (coach)," she said. "It was an easy transition into coaching because a lot of people in my office coach."
As an assistant under Jordan, Margarucci was in charge of the Rangers' offense. Now having to move to overall game management, that's what Holmgren will be in charge of this year.
“It’s just a little different from last year with small area games and everything," forward Ben Klieinsmith said. "I think Katie has a lot of experience in that. She teaches us to possess the puck and pass the puck and we’re more offensive minded."
Rather than pointing out or designating specific goals, Holmgren just wants to see the team being aggressive when on offense.
She came into the season knowing exactly what she wanted to have the team do and if there were any reservations about whether or not she could contribute, she was able to wipe those away quickly.
It’s been really fun. It’s been good to have that different perspective out there on the ice. She’s very encouraging and she’s got some good coaching advice," defenseman Tanner Colson said. "Right off the bat, we could tell she’s qualified and she’s a good coach. She’s hard on us when she needs to be and she’s a normal hockey coach."
It's a win-win situation for all parties involved. Margarucci got to build his coaching staff with friends and people that he trusts in the position and Holmgren gets to continue to work with and develop young hockey players.
Working with a high school boys team presented a different environment for her, but like the kids she the transition period (if there ever was one) went smoothy.
"I’m not sure if they were used to seeing a female on the ice with them," Holmgren said. "But it was a quick transition as far as I can tell. Obviously, I have a close relationship with Kevin and Cody so they knew how fast the guys got used to me on the ice."