Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- Duluth Marshall is starting a girls' hockey program and has hired a well-known Duluth, Minn. native as the team's first head coach, it was confirmed to NNCNOW.com on Thursday afternoon.
"First and foremost, this helps raise the level of our girls athletic programs to the same strong position as our boys programs," Duluth Marshall head of school Kevin Breen said. "We have always had a great deal of success in creating great extracurricular opportunities for all of our students."
The team will start in the 2014-15 season at the junior varsity level, with the hope being that interest and competitive level will both allow a jump to the varsity level in 2015-16.
Ryan Coole has agreed to help kickstart the program as head coach, extending his Northland hockey background after having played at both Duluth East and the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD).
"I hope to build a first-class program, almost like a Division I program that I understood when I played hockey," Coole said. "I want to treat these girls with the utmost respect, and all I'm asking in return is hard work."
Duluth Marshall has twice before offered girls' hockey to its student-athletes. The school was part of a co-op with Proctor and Hermantown until funding forced the school to withdraw following the 2010-11 season, and then it attempted to fund an Under-14 team starting in the 2011-12 year that fizzled out after just one season.
"This is a big leap for us," athletics director Kevin Snyder said. "We feel this is who we are, and those steps were necessary to get to this point. We're pretty excited about next year going junior varsity."
Snyder said as many as 15 girls already enrolled at Duluth Marshall have expressed interest in playing on the team, adding that there have also been inquiries coming from prospective students at the school.
"This further displays the flexibility of our school and our ability to create opportunities to support our families," Breen added to Snyder's point. "We have a strong number of current and interested families we are now better able to serve with the addition of girls' hockey. We are uniquely positioned to move quickly on creating opportunities like this, so as we have growing interest in other areas, such as lacrosse, we will be able to enhance offerings to Marshall families."