Lake Superior State Inks Whitten to Four-Year Extension
March 2, 2018
By Cullen Maksimowski/ LSSULakers.com
SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich.—Lake Superior State University has announced the signing of hockey coach Damon Whitten to a four-year contract extension commencing at the end of the current academic year.
Whitten, who was named the 10th head coach in program history April, 2014, is highly respected among his collegiate hockey coaching peers and has developed a reputation as an enthusiastic, tireless worker both on and off the ice.
"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."
Since arriving at Lake State, one of Whitten's biggest initiatives has been the implementation of the Laker Legion student fan organization that has brought a tremendous amount of energy and excitement to Taffy Abel Arena.
"Legion co-advisor, Marc Boucher's, favorite saying is 'Laker pride community wide', Whitten said "We were working on bringing excitement and passion certainly into Taffy Abel Arena, but more importantly across campus and thru the community."
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."
With a healthy mix of returning upperclassman and an injection of young talent, the Lakers are poised to be very competitive throughout the WCHA next season.
The Lake State Athletics Ticket Office will be taking deposits for 2018-19 Lakers Hockey season tickets beginning in March. Stayed tuned to lssulakers.com for an official announcement.