By Jason Groth
The second annual Minnesota Golden Gopher Chalk Talk Road Tour arrived at the Eagle Ridge Golf Course in Coleraine last week. The event allows Golden Gopher coaches an opportunity to reach out to their fans in the Northland.
Attending the event this year was Golden Gopher Athletic Director Norwood Teague as well as Minnesota Men’s Hockey Coach Don Lucia, Men’s Golf Coach John Carlson, Women’s Swimming and Diving Coach Terry Ganley, Gopher Football Coach Jerry Kill, Women’s Golf Coach Michele Redmen, Wrestling Coach J. Robinson and Women’s Basketball Coach Marlene Stollings.
“We are glad to be here and we love coming up here every year,” Teague said. “It’s good to be on the Range and it’s always a good feel. It’s our chance to say thank you and to shake some hands and to show our appreciation because there are so many fans that are not in the Twin Cities and we know that. This is our chance to say thank you and get out. We have a fun time doing that.”
Each coach spoke to the crowd in attendance at the event and Teague mentioned that the Athletic Department plans on moving forward with a plan to improve their practice facilities on campus.
“We are starting a campaign for our day to day facilities which is something that we need,” Teague said. “It’s something we need desperately. We are very behind in terms of where our kids practice. A lot of our facilities were built in the 70’s and most of our competitions are rehabbing facilities that were built in the 90’s. We have a long way to go there but I’m very excited about the prospect of putting that in play.”
Teague says that the caravan is an event that helps the Golden Gopher programs in many different ways. The trip continued on throughout the day making stops in Hibbing and St. Cloud.
“It builds momentum, builds relationships and it’s great marketing,” Teague said. “It’s an appreciation thing for us.”
One of the main highlights of the program was the first time appearance football head coach Jerry Kill. In past years, Kill has been unable to attend but he was able to speak on the program and talk about where the Golden Gopher football team stands at as they move forward.
“It’s always great to get out and see the Gopher fans and we have so many throughout the state,” Kill said. “It’s beautiful country and it’s good to get away from the office and be around great Gopher fans.”
Kill says this is an opportunity for fans to see the leader of their team. He promoted the program throughout his speech to many Golden Gopher fans in attendance at Eagle Ridge Golf Course.
“It’s their football team. We are the state team of Minnesota,” Kill said. “We don’t do nothing without them and it’s our opportunity to see the owners of the team.”
One of the big off-season moves done by Teague was the hiring of Marlene Stollings from Virginia Commonwealth University. This trip has provided Stollings with the opportunity to meet and greet with fans across the state for the first time as she gets acclimated to her new surroundings.
“We have been so well received throughout the state of Minnesota and it’s been an awesome experience for me personally to meet and greet some of our biggest fans,” Stollings said. “That part has been very exciting and also been able to connect with some of the coaches on the bus. It’s been a win-win all the way around for me.”
Lucia also spoke to the fans in attendance as he made a return home after finishing second in the 2014 NCAA Championship and talked about the future of the Golden Gopher hockey program.
The stop was one of nine stops on the second annual Chalk Talk Tour.