EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) - Seventh-year assistant hockey coach Erik Strand is the 2013 recipient of the Joe Merten Coaching Award, UW-Eau Claire Director of Athletics Scott Kilgallon has announced.
The cash award is available to any part-time assistant coach, graduate assistant or community coach in any of the 22 sports in the Blugold sports module. The award is named to honor Blugold basketball Hall of Famer Joe Merten who died in 2008. According to the family’s criteria for the award, the recipient “shall demonstrate a deep commitment to the student athletes and embody a passion for lifelong learning and the ‘love of the game.’”
Head coach Matt Loen, who nominated Strand, said that “Coach Strand is unbelievably passionate about Blugold hockey.” He said that Strand “assists in all aspects of our program including the most important which is recruiting the athletes. He communicates and relates well with athletes.”
The 36-year-old Strand has been involved in hockey as a player and a coach for 31 years since he started learning the sport in the Bloomington, Minnesota youth hockey program. He is a UWEC alum, playing 104 games for the Blugolds from 1998 through 2002.
Strand has been involved with the development of the Blugold program that won its first Northern Collegiate Hockey Association regular season championship and the NCAA Division III national championship last year. His fulltime job is as an account executive with NextGear Capital. He and his wife Andrea are parents of two children: Gavin, 4 and Nora 2.