Father-Daughter Duo Guiding Lumberjacks

Chelsie Brown
Updated: January 08, 2019 11:00 PM

"He's the best mentor and assistant coach you could ask for," said Cloquet-Esko-Carlton girls hockey head coach Courtney Olin.


Entering her fourth season as the CEC girls bench boss, Olin has made some changes to her coaching staff which included bringing in some family reinforcements.

"I'm a little bias, but I would say he's one of the most knowledgeable coaches in the state of Minnesota with his experience, so we're really fortunate to have him on the bench," said Olin who added her father as an assistant coach this season.

After coaching the CEC boys program for 18 seasons, it took a lot of persuasion from Olin to have Dave Esse return to the bench. He began helping with the girls program during practices last season, but didn't join the official staff until this year.

"Last year, I told her I'm not going on the bench. I just don't want any other distractions for you and your team and any of the other coaching staff," said Esse about joining the CEC girls staff.

Esse resigned from the boys program back in 2017, after dealing with numerous complaints from upset parents. He said spending time with his family was his top priority after stepping down.

However, old habits die hard. After being a part of the athletic department for 28 years, getting back into coaching felt like routine for Esse. He says he's enjoying every minute of returning to the ice to help young student athletes.

"I love high school sports more than anything. I think I'll probably retire or die a high school fan first and foremost," said Esse.

In addition, the Lumberjacks appreciate the knowledge he's brought to the team.

"He's really particular on shooting and he's helped me a lot in shooting" said junior forward Kiana Bender who ranks ninth in the state in assists. "Picking spots and snapping through my shot," Bender added are things Esse has helped her with.

"I think him improving our shots has been substantial," said senior goaltender Elise Lund. "From a goalie perspective in practice, they've been shooting so much harder and so much better and so much more accurate. I think that shows in a game."

Sitting 12-3 on the season, CEC sits ranked among the top ten in Class A. They're happy their efforts have paid off, but they aren't settling just yet.

"Making sure we're continuing to improve and not just being okay with having a decent record at this point," said Olin said her goals are for her team. "Continuing to improve and realizing that February is when it counts."

Only graduating one senior this group's end game is the state tournament. The Lumberjacks know what they need to tweak to get there and know they'll have an experienced force pushing them to achieve their goal.

"I would say mostly our d-zone and blocking more shots to not let the D shoot through us," Bender said she hoped her team can work on."

"Composure with ourselves," added Lund. "I know what we're capable of and just calming down and playing our game."

"There's nothing like St. Paul and the state tournament," said Esse.


Chelsie Brown

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