Holmberg to take hockey helm

Changing of the guard in women’s hockey as Matt Holmberg takes over head coach position from Harold Parsons

Former head coach Harold Parsons (right) with protégé Matt Holmberg, who will be assuming Parsons’ duties this season.
Former head coach Harold Parsons (right) with protégé Matt Holmberg, who will be assuming Parsons’ duties this season.
Journal File Photo

For the third time in three years, the women’s hockey team is changing coaches.

Matt Holmberg, an assistant coach with the team for the past three seasons, is taking the reins of the team from Harold Parsons, who is celebrating the birth of his third child.

Holmberg said he won’t be making many changes to the team’s dynamic when he steps behind the bench.

“Things don’t have to change that much for this program to remain successful,” he said. “I don’t think we can settle or plan for anything less than going for an OUA championship.”

Parsons has coached the team to a .608 winning percentage since 2001. The team has finished in the OUA’s top four the last eight years.

Holmberg served as interim head coach for two games last season, winning both of them. He graduated from Queen’s Law school in 1997.

Holmberg said he’s partly learned his coaching style from Parsons. Parsons will take the role of a mentor coach for the year, helping guide Holmberg in the technical aspects of the job.

“I think it’s the perfect transition for both of us,” he said. “I like to motivate through positive reinforcement, and I learned some of that from Harold. I have a passion for the game and for the school that will hopefully come out through my style on the bench and trickle down to the players themselves.”

In 2007-08, Parsons stepped down and Rob Lalonde coached the team for the year with Parsons in a general manager-like role.

Athletics and Recreation director Leslie Dal Cin said there was some confusion for the players as to who was in charge that year. She said she doesn’t expect confusion to resurface under Holmberg.

“I think we were less clear last time, and it did cause some communication problems,” she said. “I think we all agreed it was really confusing. We tried to adopt a GM-coach model. There was still some contact w the athletes by Harold. That put Rob in an interesting situation.”

This time around, Parsons will have a more behind-the-scenes role as a mentor for Holmberg, Dal Cin said.

“The previous model we tried to have this parallel structure where Harold in the GM role is working administration and the coach is basically on the ice,” she said. “It just caused too many crossover areas we didn’t anticipate...if Harold made arrangements for the team to leave in a certain time and Rob wanted to change it.”

Dal Cin said Holmberg will have full control of the team this year, but she’s not sure if Parsons will be back.

“I’m not sure he can make the time and commitment necessary going forward. We’re going to review it at the end of the year,” she said. “With Harold, this is a person who cares a lot about the program.”

Holmberg said he’s excited for training camp, but he isn’t sure who he’ll play with heralded recruits the McHaffie twins.

He also wouldn’t tip his hand as to the team’s goaltending situation, though, saying only that he expects healthy competition in training camp. With goaltender Melissa John not returning, fourth-year Katie Boyd and second-year Karissa Savage will vie for the starter’s role.

Assistant coach Kim Pearce will also stay on this season in an expanded role.

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