July 24, 2020 at 10:19 a.m.
After an acrimonious split with former head coach Cale Arhart, the Wildcats went with Cory Lushanko for their vacant position.
Lushanko played hockey, track and field and football for the Wildcats, graduating in 2011. He played two years of juniors for the Coulee Region Chill before a three year career at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls that saw him play hockey and participate in track and field.
“I was fortunate enough to have the God given ability to compete as a two sport collegiate athlete,” Lushanko said. “I learned a lot from each coach I had and I am looking forward to sharing my obtained knowledge with the high school team and youth hockey program.”
While playing for the Falcons, Lushanko doubled as an assistant coach for the River Falls High School hockey team, and for the past seven years, he’s been the lead hockey instructor for the Minnesota Advancement Program based out of Blaine, Plymouth and Hudson, WI.
Now, Lushanko will take on a bigger role at a school that has built up certain expectations of the hockey program. They have been knocking on the door to the state tournament for the past few years, and Lushanko wants to build on that. “My hope for the program is to excel in the three areas that guide our young men. I call them the three C's. I want the student athletes to excel in the classroom, community, and in competition. The goal every year is to play in the state tournament. I want community members to know that we will serve them during good times and bad. Most importantly, I want to provide an enjoyable experience for the student athletes who participate in the program,” he said. “I want to give them skills to succeed far after they leave CLHS. We have an excellent administration team and I am confident knowing I can run a great program with the support I have.
“As the coach, I view myself as the leader and face of the program. I want to serve as a mentor for the student athletes and a resource for the youth hockey program. I am going to implement a structured, tenacious style of play. We will be prepared with a plan going into every game we play. I want our young men to be tough, confident, physical and hard to play against. We have a great group of returning players and our youth hockey program has done a great job developing hockey players in the past.”
Reaching the community around the hockey program will be paramount to Lushanko, but as an alum who also had multiple family members follow in his footsteps in the hockey programs, he’s well aware of the culture and, at times, the challenges of coaching high school hockey.
“My message to the community is that I am very excited for the opportunity and I need to thank God for putting me in this position. I assure you that once the student athletes advance to their next stages of life, they will do so as better individuals,” Lushanko explained.