By Shane Frederick
Free Press Staff Writer
After 14 seasons as a boys hockey coach, including the last five at Mankato East/Loyola, Aaron Anderson is stepping aside.
Anderson said he made the decision over the weekend and informed East activities director Todd Waterbury and the team’s returning players of his decision on Monday.
“Mostly family,” Anderson said when asked about his decision. “It was a tough winter with both (grade-school-age) kids in YMCA swimming and in hockey. Definitely a lot of extra work for my wife.”
Anderson started his coaching career at Waseca and was hired in Mankato in 2008. With East/Loyola, his teams went 30-97-2.
The Cougars won a playoff game with a senior-laden team during Anderson’s second year, but East/Loyola suffered through some lean years numbers-wise after that.
East/Loyola went 9-14-1 this season, an improvement of five wins from last year and seven from the season before.
“It could have been 11 or 12 wins with a lot of close games,” Anderson said. “But I’m proud of this year’s senior group. They never gave up. They kept on playing and kept on playing for each other.”
Anderson said he believes the program’s future is bright, especially as player numbers continue to grow on the East side of town.
The Cougars added a JV team this season after the low numbers prevented East and Loyola from putting one on the ice for two years in a row. Anderson said having a JV team was “really important” for the program’s growth.
Anderson, a math teacher at East Junior High, said he will stay on as East’s girls golf coach. He said he also will be helping organize the hockey team’s spring and summer activities and workouts until a new coach is hired.
“I want to make sure they know I’m not going to leave them hanging,” he said.