New coach brings passion for hockey
Waupaca Area must fill goalie spot
By Greg Seubert
Dan Bauer may be a stranger to the Waupaca Area girls’ hockey program, but he’s no stranger to the sport.
The retired Wausau teacher, who coached boys’ teams at Spooner and Wausau East high schools to more than 200 wins before stepping down at East following the 2012-13 season, takes the Waupaca Area program over from Tim Guyer, who coached the team for its first four seasons.
After stepping down at East, Bauer spent three seasons as an assistant coach with the Central Wisconsin Storm, a cooperative girls’ team of Wausau area schools that competed at state earlier this year.
“First and foremost, it was an opportunity to be a head coach again,” Bauer said when asked about the chance to coach hockey. “I enjoyed my last three years as an assistant and learned a lot with the Central Wisconsin Storm, but have been itching to be a head coach again.
“It has been a huge transition for me,” he added. “I was definitely looking for an opportunity to return some normalcy to my life and do what I love to do: coach.”
Bauer inherits a program that has a handful of returning players in senior Katarina Otter-Giese and juniors Markie Ash, Avrey Simonson and Jamie Slattery, but also has to replace goalie Cassie Rasmussen.
Finding a replacement for Rasmussen, who tended the net for four seasons, is high on Bauer’s list of priorities.
“Without a goalie on the roster, it is a very challenging endeavor,” he said. “I like challenges and I guess I have always been more comfortable as the underdog than the favorite.”
Bauer said there are some differences between coaching boys and girls.
“There are definitely some differences, but most of those aren’t really related to the actual playing of the game, it is more stuff away from the ice,” he said. “On the ice, the game is quite similar so the teaching part isn’t much different. It is about creating a culture of ‘team’ and developing the essential habits needed to be a good player.
“Away from the ice, boys tend to get themselves into more trouble,” he said. “After working three years with the girls, I found I did not miss that. The girls approach the game a little different and prepare differently. With girls, you have to choose words more carefully because they tend to internalize things more than boys. They compete equally hard and you can certainly challenge each with high skill development and systems of team play. I raised four daughters, so I feel like I had an inside track already built in.”
Waupaca Area, which includes players from Waupaca, Iola-Scandinavia and Amherst high schools, will again compete in the Great Northern Conference.
Bauer knows the conference well.
“I think we played all of them with the exception of Lakeland when I was with the Storm,” he said. “I don’t really like to get into predictions. Our goal will be to challenge for the Great Northern Conference title.”
Waupaca Area will open the season at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 22, with a nonconference matchup against Appleton United at the Waupaca Ice & Expo Center.
“When you turn on the scoreboard, the goal is to win and we will approach every game with that mindset,” Bauer said. “I tend to be an optimist. I always believe there is path to victory, even in the face of the greatest odds.
“Our challenge will be to do it with an unselfish and brave young lady in goal that will have a mere two weeks of experience at the position when we play our first game,” he said. “When a player is willing to put their individual agenda aside and step into a challenge like that, how can you not be impressed with that and not want to be a part of that? One of the great rewards of coaching is witnessing unselfish acts of team unity like that.”
Bauer’s staff includes assistant coaches Alli DeZurik-Otto and Ben Lena.
While the team gives players a chance to suit up and play the game they love, Bauer also gets the chance to coach the sport he loves.
“It is truly my passion,” he said. “I believe the character development that athletics offers – but coaches must manifest – is the most valuable experience in high school. I don’t believe any other class or activity has the ability to build character like athletics. Everyday, every practice and game, there are life lessons right there to be taught, lessons that will serve these players the rest of their life long after the wins and losses have faded away.
“The biggest draw for me has always been trying to build a unified team that puts all of the individual agendas aside and pushes toward a common goal,” he said. “That, in my opinion, is the holy grail of coaching. When it happens and they come together, it is the most rewarding experience in coaching. The power and reward of team chemistry is without equal. I love the journey, the excitement, the unpredictably, the obstacles, the rewards and the fact that we have a big say in determining just how great a journey it will be.”
Waupaca Area Girls’ Hockey
• Tuesday, Nov. 15 – Scrimmage vs. Wisconsin Rapids, Appleton United, Baraboo at Stevens Point, 5:20 p.m.
• Tuesday, Nov. 22 – vs. Appleton United, 7 p.m.
• Friday, Nov. 25 – at Black River Falls Invitational, 5 p.m.
• Saturday, Nov. 26 – at Black River Falls Invitational, 2 p.m. or 4:30 p.m.
• Tuesday, Nov. 29 – vs. Wisconsin Rapids, 7 p.m.
• Saturday, Dec. 3 – vs. Antigo/Rhinelander, 7 p.m.
• Friday, Dec. 9 – at University School of Milwaukee, 7 p.m.
• Saturday, Dec. 10 – vs. Arrowhead (2 p.m.) and Brookfield (7 p.m.) at University School of Milwaukee.
• Friday, Dec. 16 – vs. Northland Pines, 7 p.m.
• Saturday, Dec. 17 – vs. Lakeland/Tomahawk/Mercer, 7 p.m.
• Monday, Dec. 19 – at Wisconsin Rapids, 5 p.m.
• Tuesday, Dec. 20 – vs. Central Wisconsin Storm, 5 p.m.
• Tuesday, Jan. 3 – at Appleton West, 8 p.m.
• Friday, Jan. 6 – vs. Medford, 7 p.m.
• Friday, Jan. 13 – at Northland Pines, 7 p.m.
• Monday, Jan. 16 – vs. Antigo/Rhinelander at Antigo, 7 p.m.
• Thursday, Jan. 19 – vs. Fond du Lac at Waupun, 7 p.m.
• Saturday, Jan. 21 – vs. Lakeland/Tomahawk/Mercer at Minocqua, 2:30 p.m.
• Friday, Feb. 3 – vs. Bay Area at De Pere, 5:30 p.m.
• Friday, Feb. 3 – at Medford, 7 p.m.
• Tuesday, Feb. 7 – vs. Fox Cities Stars at Neenah, 7 p.m.
• Saturday, Feb. 11 – at Black River Falls, 3 p.m.