SAULT STE. MARIE — Lake Superior State University announced today that head hockey coach Damon Whitten has been signed to a four year contract extension.
Whitten, who has been head coach of the Lakers since 2014, has compiled a 43-90-18 record in his first four years behind the bench.
Before being named head coach of the Lakers, Whitten served as an assistant coach for four seasons at Michigan Tech, where he worked under Jamie Russell at first, and later Mel Pearson.
Prior to that, Whitten had stints at Alaska Anchorage on Dave Shyiak’s staff, and at Wayne State under Bill Wilkinson. In addition, he worked as Director of Hockey Operations from 2008-10 at his alma mater, Michigan State.
A native of Brighton, Michigan, Whitten played under one-time Lakers head coach Ron Mason at MSU from 1997-2001, where he scored 35 goals and 40 assists in four seasons, eventually serving as an assistant captain his senior season.
From the press release:
“University presidents look for qualities of character more than records when assessing coaches,” said Lake Superior State President Dr. Peter T. Mitchell. “Damon Whitten is a person of great personal integrity and genuine compassion for his players. He emphasizes sportsmanship, hard work, and a commitment to excel on the ice and in the classroom. His team’s GPA is consistently above 3.0 and the current players are great ambassadors in the community.
“Winning traditions in collegiate and professional sports have one thing in common, they trust and support a coach of integrity and they eventually become winners. I trust Damon and his assistant coaches; I believe in them and in the players. I have been particularly proud of the way they all have responded to adversity and finished the season with sweeps at Bemidji and Anchorage. With this new contract, I look forward to Coach Whitten building a hockey program at Lake State known for integrity, grit, and class, on and off the ice.”
In his four years at the helm of the program, Whitten has made it priority to rebuild the Lake State Hockey tradition, while targeting increased community involvement, connection with the student body and excellence in the classroom.
“On behalf of our staff and our families I would like to thank Dr. Peter Mitchell and Dr. David Paitson for their support and the opportunity to continue to lead the storied hockey program at LSSU,” said Whitten.
“We are privileged to be at a University and in a community where we are able to build quality relationships. We look forward to continuing that work with our student-athletes, within the campus community and across the twin Soo communities.”
In 2017, the LSSU hockey team was awarded Community Partner of the Year by the United Way of the Eastern Upper Peninsula for their involvement in outreach events throughout the Sault Ste. Marie community.
Narrowly missing out on a postseason berth this season, Whitten has still managed to lead the Lakers to the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Tournament in his first three seasons while navigating the significant obstacle of losing top talent to professional hockey.
With an assistant coaching staff consisting of Sault Ste. Marie native, Rich Metro and NHL veteran Mike York. The Laker hockey program has continued to focus on recruiting high-level talent with an emphasis on individuals seeking a complete student-athlete experience.
“We are very excited to continue to have Damon at the helm of the Lake State hockey program,” said Director of Athletics Dr. David Paitson. “We believe Damon’s leadership and dedication will help reestablish the Laker Hockey program as one of the elite programs in college hockey.
“As a department, we are aiming to build stability throughout our coaching staff and retaining a high-level leader with a commitment to our vision, such as Damon, goes a long way in helping us reach our goals.”
Full press release: http://www.lssulakers.com/general/2017-18/releases/20180301nyxmn1