A pair long-time collegiate athletics veterans — Bob Nygaard and Don Olson — have been appointed to leadership positions with the Duluth Amateur Hockey Association.
Nygaard will serve as DAHA’s interim executive director while Olson is the organization’s first-ever director of player and coach development. The two Duluth natives, along with marketing and communications specialist Bailey Olson, make up the DAHA administrative staff.
“On behalf of the DAHA Board of Directors, I am excited to announce that Bob Nygaard and Don Olson have accepted the positions with our organization,” said DAHA Board President Paul Altmann. “It is very exciting to bring a new vision and years of hockey knowledge and administrative experience to Duluth Hockey.”
Nygaard worked for 37 years with the University of Minnesota Duluth Athletic Department before his position as assistant athletic director for communications was eliminated this past spring. During his nearly four decades of service to UMD, Nygaard oversaw all media and public relations efforts for Bulldog athletics, including the day-to-day production and operations of the the department’s web set (umdbulldogs.com), as well as @umdbulldogs, which has the third-most Twitter followers of any NCAA Division II athletic department in the nation. Nygaard also coordinated promotional campaigns that culminated in a NCAA-record six Bulldogs winning the Hobey Baker Memorial Award as college hockey’s most outstanding player (Scott Perunovich in 2020, Jack Connolly in 2012, Junior Lessard in 2004, Chris Marinucci in1994, Bill Watson in 1985 and Tom Kurvers in 1984). From 1997 to 2002, he doubled as UMD’s athletic marketing and event management director and was the sport administrator for women’s tennis for his final seven years of employment. Nygaard, a member of the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Hall of Fame, was heavily involved in a number of community service-related activities while at UMD and continues to volunteer as a Duluth 709 baseball coach and umpire and elementary school reader. He serves -- or has served — on the Duluth Laker (now Duluth Denfeld) Hockey Board, the Lake Park Little League/Duluth 709 Baseball Board, the Homecroft Elementary School PTA, and the St. Benedict’s Church Parish Council. A one-time Duluth School Board member, Nygaard received the 2004 Bob Kenworthy Community Service Award from CoSIDA for his civic involvement and accomplishments outside the sports information/athletic communications office and was also the recipient of a UMD Outstanding Service Award in both 2003-04 (for his exemplary work with the 2003 NCAA Women’s Hockey Frozen Four event) and 2004-05 (for his service to the university).
“As the old saying goes, when one door closes another one opens and I’m looking forward to this new opportunity,” said Nygaard, a DAHA alum himself (Woodland) whose two sons followed in his footsteps — Morgan (Duluth Heights and Duluth Lakers/Denfeld) and Nolan (Woodland and now a second-year Duluth East Pee Wee). “Youth hockey in Duluth has so much going for it and so much potential. It all starts with the exceptional volunteers we are extremely blessed to have — those folks who selfishly give their time to coach, flood rinks, help out as managers, run concession stands, etc. Then there are the rink directors and the dozens of DAHA board members, a dynamic, diverse and energetic group of men and women who, like me, are eager to really keep moving Duluth hockey forward.
“The mission of Duluth Hockey is simple — to provide the best possible overall experience for our nearly 800 participants, coaches and parents — while keeping costs to a minimum. That mission is what will drive everything the DAHA staff and myself does.”
Don Olson, a Duluth Denfeld High School graduate, and former Harvard University hockey letterman owns a coaching resume that is steeped in experience — to say the least — having spent 32 seasons as bench boss at St. Mary’s University (Winona, Minn.), where he took a program that, upon his arrival, had been playing at a dilapidated outdoor rink upon and elevated it into a Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title contender. The three-time MIAC Coach of the Year honoree also ran one of the most successful youth camps in the upper Midwest, enrolling over 800 boys and girls at times. In addition to serving on the Winona Area Youth Hockey Association Board of Directors, he also spent countless hours volunteering with Winona’s youth hockey players and coaches. The 2006-07 season marked Olson’s last with the Cardinals as he took on a new challenge — a nine-year run as the College of St. Scholastica’s director of intercollegiate athletics. Under his leadership, CSS added three sports (including women’s hockey), won eight consecutive Upper Midwest Athletic Conference Kruse Awards (All-Sports Trophy), made 36 NCAA Division III Tournament team appearances and had individuals qualify for 51 NCAA Division III Championship events. After retiring from CSS in 2017, Olson was appointed commissioner of the National Collegiate Hockey Association, a role he continues to handle.
Over the years, Olson has directed several regional and national camps while also working numerous coaching clinics for USA Hockey. He also did two different stints as the chair of the NCAA III Hockey Championships Committee in addition to serving on the American Hockey Coaches Association Board of Directors.
Last winter, Olson returned to his DAHA roots (which began as a youngster at the Wheeler and Irving rinks) and helped coach the U15 Duluth Icebreakers.
“Having grown up playing hockey on Duluth's outdoor rinks and the Duluth Curling Club, coaching high school hockey in Duluth, as well as coaching college hockey for over three decades, I am well aware of the long and rich tradition of hockey in the community,” said Olson, who was a head and an assistant coach at Duluth Cathedral (now Marshall) High School prior to his move to St. Mary’s. “I am very excited by the opportunity to give back to the sport, in my home town, that has played such a significant role in my life."
"I am looking forward to bring my knowledge, experience, and passion for the game to the players, coaches, and parents of the Duluth community. It is my hope that we can create an exceptionally collaborative environment focused on the ‘Long Term Development’ for the youth players in the association. Also, it is equally important that the positive experience we create for our participants includes personal growth as it relates to the association's newly-adopted core values."
Bailey Olson signed on with the DAHA staff in December of 2019 as an intern and was promoted to Marketing and Communications specialist five months later. The Clear Lake, Minn., native earned a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree in Marketing and Bachelor of Arts in Hispanic Studies from UMD in 2019.
“My goal is to get creative and enhance our fundraising efforts, increase participation throughout all of our programs and be a positive light for the Duluth hockey community,” said Olson. “Even though I didn’t play hockey myself, I come from a big hockey family and I’m really passionate about kids and education. I love Duluth and am thrilled to be working for Duluth Hockey.” Bailey is also a swim coach in Duluth and volunteers at the Lowell Spanish Immersion Elementary School.
Greetings Visiting Hockey Teams!
2020-21 tournament registration is open. Click on the tournaments tab or the link below. Be sure to register today -- the tournaments fill up fast.
We look forward to seeing you this winter in Duluth!
|Tommy Williams||Bantam AA||November 13-15, 2020|
|Gales of November||PeeWee AA||November 13-15, 2020|
|Portman Thanksgiving Tournament||Squirt A & B||November 20-22, 2020|
|Spirit of Duluth Tournament||PeeWee, Bantam, Jr. Gold||December 4-6, 2020|
|Head of the Lakes||Bantam B1 & PeeWee B1||December 11-13, 2020|
|Lake Superior Classic||Bantam A & PeeWee A||December 18-20, 2020|
|Up North Tournament||Bantam A & PeeWee A||January 1-3, 2021|
|DAHA Mid-Winter Classic||Bantam C & PeeWee C||January 8-10, 2021|
|St. Luke's Invitational||Girl's Hockey All Levels||January 15-17, 2021|
|Skate the Edge||Squirt B||January 22-24, 2021|
|Zenith Tournament||Bantam B2 & PeeWee B2||January 29-31. 2021|
|Duluth Jr. Gold||Jr. Gold B||February 5-7, 2021|
|Blades of Steel||Squirt B||February 12-14, 2021|
|Mite Jamboree||Mite 2||February 19-20, 2021|
The 2020 Bayfront Blues Festival has been cancelled!
Thank you to all of our volunteers that signed up to work this on behalf of Duluth Amateur Hockey!
We will look forward to seeing you for the 2021 Bayfront Bluesfest!