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White Pine native Ward Helakoski takes over as Hancock girls basketball coach

HANCOCK — Hancock High School announced Ward Helakoski was named Hancock’s new girls basketball coach.

Helakoski, a White Pine native, has coached nearly four decades from junior college to Class A, C and D high schools.

He led the Community College of Allegheny women’s team to a 50-12 record in two seasons from 1986-88.

He was last a coach for the Mattawan High School Class A boys basketball team from 2013-19, coaching the team to an undefeated regular season and district championship his last year there. He won two district titles coaching Bloomingdale High School’s Class C boys team in 2008-13.

In 1992-2000, Helakoski coached Forest Park’s boys team to three district championships, two regional championships and a state runner-up finish. He was named the Class D Coach of the Year in 1996.

“It is a rare occasion to be able to bring in a coach with the experience and success that Ward has had over the past 40 years,” Hancock athletic director Chris Salani said. “His records and accolades speak for themselves and we are extremely excited to welcome him to the Bulldog basketball family.”

Helakoski’s experience could be a steadying factor in a year upended by COVID-19.

Helakoski retired from teaching in 2019.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever been this excited to start a new coaching chapter of my life,” Helakoski said. “I missed the game a tremendous amount last season and can’t wait to get back on the court. The Copper Country has always been near and dear to my family and I’m extremely thankful and proud to be part of this Hancock basketball program.”

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