MANKATO — Mankato West didn’t end up going too far from home to find its next boys hockey coach.

Nate Olsen, a 2011 West graduate who has been an assistant for the last eight seasons, has been promoted to be the Scarlets’ next head coach.

“As a former Scarlet hockey player and a coach for the last eight years, it’s a super exciting opportunity to build on the culture that we’ve tried to install and continued to improve upon,” Olsen said. “Really, that culture’s about the holistic development of young men.”

West activities director Joe Johnson said there was a strong applicant pool for the position, which was vacated when long-time coach Curtis Doell resigned to take over as an assistant coach with the North American 3 Hockey League’s New Ulm Steel.

Johnson said there was considerable “athlete support” for Olsen, and that his passion for the job and program are undeniable.

“His heart and soul is in Mankato West hockey, so he’s going to put in a lot of time, a lot of effort for the program to continue to build on the strong position that it has,” Johnson said. “Nate has strong relationships with the community, and most importantly, with the athletes.”

Olsen, a Minnesota State graduate, has always enjoyed teaching the game but didn’t necessarily envision becoming a head coach.

However, he remembers a day during his junior year at West where he worked for several hours with youth players.

It felt easy, and he loved it.

“I remember Curtis (Doell) making a comment like ‘once you get Nate out there, you’re never going to get him off,’” Olsen said. “As I look back, I think maybe that was the first sign that coaching could be a passion of mine.”

While at MSU, Olsen continued to work with youth hockey players, before Doell offered him a job on his staff in 2013.

Since then, his passion for coaching and knowledge of the game have only grown.

“I had a great mentor in Curtis to really help develop me as a coach and a person. To help me continue to evolve,” Olsen said. “I’m really thankful for that.”

Follow Kevin Dudley on Twitter @Dudley7Kevin.

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