Scoring on the "Rebound"

Skippers' hockey coach Sean Goldsworthy is glad to be back home

In 2016, when he left St. Olaf College after 23 years as a player and then head coach, Sean Goldsworthy was looking for a new challenge. He found it at his alma mater and the place he considers home: Minnetonka High School. Last year Goldsworthy—who was captain of the 1989–1990 Minnetonka team that placed third in the state tournament—was named boys’ hockey coach at MHS, replacing Brian Ulrick, who stepped down after 10 seasons.

The team went on to win its first state high school hockey title, beating Duluth East in the championship game last March. One of the team’s senior captains, Luke Loheit, is Goldsworthy’s nephew.
And the Goldsworthy name has been familiar to Minnesota hockey fans for decades. Goldsworthy’s late father, Bill, starred for the NHL Minnesota North Stars from 1967 to 1977.

Sean Goldsworthy remembers learning to skate on outdoor Twin Cities rinks at the age of 3; three years later, his family moved to Minnetonka, where his dad coached him in peewee hockey—what he says is his fondest memory of childhood. He also remembers watching his dad fly across the ice at Metropolitan Sports Center, wearing his green and white No. 8 Stars’ jersey.

Sean Goldsworthy

Goldsworthy played one season of minor league pro hockey, before retiring to succeed legendary St. Olaf coach Whitey Aus. Goldsworthy hadn’t considered coming back to coach at MHS until the opportunity arose in the spring of 2017. He immediately saw it as “an opportunity to give back to the program,” he says. Goldsworthy and his wife Lauren moved from Northfield to Minnetonka last summer, along with daughters Madigan, 18, Emma, 12, and Amy, 3. Madigan had been captain of her Northfield High School girls’ team.

“It’s certainly been a blessing; I really enjoy working with this age group. They are energetic and have a passion for the game; we just need to help them channel that energy into the proper place,” Goldsworthy says.

After a long career as a college coach, one of the things Goldsworthy appreciates about high school coaching is the ability to make every minute count in helping develop players. “In college coaching, a good portion of your time is recruiting,” he says. Since coaches need to spend time with kids who don't wind up coming to their program, “those minutes spent recruiting are not very high yield. One of best parts about coming to this level is, every minute you put into it is productive, since the kids are already in the program,” he says. “It couldn’t be a better fit for me.” In taking over the team last year, “we walked into a great scenario. Brian did a wonderful job before me developing these kids. A lot of them are highly skilled. The biggest challenge is to get on same page and play as unit,” he says.

He’s proud of what the team accomplished in his first season at MHS. “Most importantly, we are developing a really strong culture, not just at the high school, [but]in the entire youth program,” Goldsworthy says.

One interesting piece Goldsworthy brings to the job is that he spent 20 years teaching biomechanics—the science of human movement—at St. Olaf. The ability to analyze body movement in a scientific, structural way is useful in teaching players the finer points of skating, stick handling, passing, checking and shooting.

Winning back-to-back state championships is no easy feat, but Goldsworthy feels optimistic about his team’s chances this season. He says, “We’re returning a really solid group of players and we have some great leaders coming back. The question will be how quickly we are able to get everybody on the same page. We certainly have the pieces in place.”

Ted Schultz, the high school’s activities director, says MHS has the right coach for the job. He says Goldsworthy has a solid grasp of the X’s and O’s of hockey, but it is “his ability to connect, motivate and relate to our student-athletes that sets him apart as one of the best. Sean’s ability to create relationships and build a positive culture has been a cornerstone to his transformational approach to coaching.”