August 15, 2003 at 11:25 a.m.
In addition, even fewer can add that the coach comes back and spends one week in town every year, continuing to add to the growing talent in the area. Chisago Lakes can do that as well.
This entire week, Darren Blue, former Chisago Lakes head man and current assistant coach at Minnesota State-Mankato, will be in town for the sixth annual Chisago Lakes hockey school.
“It’s fun to come back,” said Blue who coached for three seasons at Chisago Lakes. “A lot of the kids I’ve known since they were young. Some of them, I’ve coached their older brother or something like that, so it’s fun to get back here.”
After leaving Chisago Lakes, the East Grand Forks native spent the ‘99-2000 season as an assistant coach and interim head coach for the Bozeman Icedogs of the America West Hockey League before heading to the WCHA. Blue was hired on at MSU-Mankato in 2001.
“I’ve been pretty fortunate. I remember being hired right out of college by Joe Thimm (former Chisago Lakes Activities Director) and I’ve been pretty fortunate with the way things have worked out since,” remarked Blue, who will be going into his third season with the Mavericks this fall. “Definitely, I’m very grateful for the opportunity I got and the help I got here when I first started. Without that, who knows where I would be today.”
When you break it down, giving thanks just might be the only reason why Blue still makes the trip to Lindstrom every August. With just one month left before the start of the college season, time is tight, but Blue is determined to continue the tradition.
“Coming back and doing this is something I hope to continue to do. I started this about seven years ago just to give kids from the area some ice at a cheap rate. I can guarantee that it’s the cheapest camp in the state for what the kids get,” commented Blue. “Along with a big group of parents, we tried to start a youth program when I was here and I really am starting to see all of the hard work paying off.”