Monahan Smith named CCSA Men’s Coach of the Year; Co-Women’s Coach of the Year
HOUGHTON — Michigan Tech Nordic ski head coach Tom Monahan Smith has been named the CCSA Men’s Coach of the Year along with the CCSA Co-Women’s Coach of the Year with Maria Stuber of College of St. Scholastica. He was recognized amongst his peers at the NCAA Central Regional Championships in Ishpeming, Michigan, on Sunday, February 26.
Monahan Smith earned his first CCSA Men’s Coach of the Year award back in 2018 and was named CCSA Women’s Coach of the Year for the 2022 season.
At the conference championships this season, Michigan Tech took second place in the team standings behind Northern Michigan. The women took second place with 127 points behind Northern Michigan’s 134 points. The men of Michigan Tech won the Butch Reimer Cup at the CCSA Conference Championships with senior Adam Witkowski taking runner-up honors in the men’s 20km mass start.
The Huskies’ depth was on display in the Sunday race as Skylar Patten (fourth-place), Wes Campbell (seventh-place) and Henry Snider (ninth-place), all posted top-10 finishes.
In the regular season the nordic huskies were combined overall team champions in all but one race weekend. They took second place in the conference championship as a combined team, while the men picked up first place for the first time in tech history and came home with the Men’s Team Butch Ryder Cup. The Huskies won the combined overall NCAA Central Regional Skiing Championships
The Michigan Tech coaching staff also consists of Kristen Monahan Smith who is in her 6th season as assistant coach, former Husky, Mark Oustigian, graduate assistant coach, and student manager and coach, Will Haapala.
“This nomination is so well deserved,” said senior student-athlete Anabel Needham, “Tom and Kristen have built and nurtured this program since day one, and they believe in their athletes no matter their result or background. The recognition for our coaching staff is a small thank you for the continuous work they put in for their athletes, department, local community, and the CCSA as a whole.
“As a junior looking for collegiate ski programs that would accept me, there were few that looked at my results and offered me a chance. Tom and Kristen gave me an opportunity before anyone else, and they made me believe that I could be competitive before I was even on their team. Since then, the believing hasn’t stopped, and without that genuine support I know I would not be where I am today.”
“Tom is a great coach deserving of the award because of his commitment to every skier on the team and his excitement for every race,” sophomore student-athlete Jasper Johnston added. “He as well as the other coaching staff have done a great job cultivating a positive team environment that I look forward to being a part of every day.
“I appreciate how Tom and the coaching staff help each of us on the team become the best athletes and students that we can be by giving us the opportunity to push ourselves in practice, the race course, and the classroom.”
“It is really good to know that this nomination confirmed what we already believed: we have the most supportive coaching staff around,” sophomore student-athlete Tryg Solberg mentioned. “Each coach brings a unique perspective to training, racing and waxing philosophies. Tom cares about our athletic success but more importantly, he exhibits deep passion for success in all other aspects of our lives while still being professional.
“Tom, Kristen, Will and Mark make college athletics as rewarding of an experience as it can be, no matter how challenging certain aspects of training and school can be. The flexibility that their training provides has created the most successful Husky ski team to date.”
“I think our coaching staff being nominated both men’s team and women’s team coach of the year says a lot about the hard work and passion they all put into the MTU Nordic Ski Team,” added sophomore Marie Sølverud Wangen. “Tom, Kristen, Mark, and Will all have different qualities that complement each other in the best ways possible. I admire Tom’s positive energy and excitement on every team practice and race weekend.
“He shows that he truly believes in every athlete on the team and that we can achieve our goals and develop as skiers. Tom is also incredible at finding the positives in every situation. If I’m having a hard day or race, Tom always finds a positive take-away instead of focusing on what went wrong and inspires me to reset and move forward. Kristen is a great asset to the team in many ways, from ski testing to nutrition to everyday life! I also really appreciate our graduate assistant coaches, Mark and Will, who are always contributing to keep a good atmosphere on the team.”