PARTNER / OWNER / GENERAL MANAGER / HEAD COACH
Coach Witta completed his 3rd year of Junior A’ coaching and inaugural year with the Blue Ox, finishing with an impressive 33-11-4 record and a consistent top 10 Tier 3 national ranking all season. The Blue Ox also promoted one player, Finnish defenseman Oskari Halme, to the NCDC Tier 2 level, as well as advanced four age out players onto college hockey.
During his prior two seasons, Witta had been the head coach of the NA3HL’s Junior A’ hockey team – New Ulm Steel. Witta completed a 67-33-10 two year record with a Silver Cup semifinal appearance 2015/16 and a Western Division playoff final loss to the eventual National Champion, Granite City 2016/17. The Steel also completed a relocation transition from White Bear Lake to New Ulm 2017 with the smoothest of ease. Jay worked daily with the Steel ownership in all aspects of the business – budgets, league communications, recruiting, trades, facilities, core value accountability, parent communication, and player advancement. During his two year stint with the Steel, Witta helped promote over eight players to the NAHL/TIER 2 LEVEL as well as seven players onto NCAA and ACHA college hockey.
Witta, a Minnetonka, Minnesota native, played three years for the Minnetonka Skippers from 1985-87 where he was named captain his Senior season and helped guide the Skippers to their first ever Lake Conference Championships and was honored with an All-Conference Team selection. Witta was recruited by Herb Brooks at St. Cloud State University in 1987 to play on the inaugural SCSU Division 1 squad. After entertaining offers from various Division 1 & 3 programs across the country, Witta chose to stay close to home and attend St. Cloud State University as a walk on defenseman.
Witta also played Junior A’ hockey in Humboldt, Saask. for the Broncos (SJHL) before an undetected heart issue caused him to retire and return back to Minnesota. Witta has been coaching for the past 20 seasons and served on the Minnetonka Youth Hockey Board for 2 years – Jay also worked with Dave Snuggerud at Breakaway hockey to help form the first ever Breakaway AAA 97′ training team. Witta resides in Minnetonka with his wife Sara and their four boys. Bennett, Brody, Brooks and Griffin.
ASSISTANT COACH | USA Hockey Level 4 Certified Coaching Certification
Jason comes to the Blue Ox after a very successful high school hockey coaching career spanning the course of sixteen years. Coach Wood has also spent many years coaching with USA hockey at the various HP 16-17 regional levels, and is a USA Hockey Level 4 certified instructor. The ever so humble Wood, is a self proclaimed “hockey junkie” and is proud of the fact that he has helped instruct and develop dozens of local players that have gone on to play collegiately and professionally. Jason can still be found at the rink on any given late night participating with his pond hockey buddies, enjoying the love of the game. Born and raised in Blaine, Minnesota, Jason now resides in Brooklyn Park with his wife Stacey and their two girls.
Blue Ox General Manager/Head Coach Jay Witta had this to say about Wood, “With Jason’s love of teaching the game, and his contacts and knowledge of the local/regional scouting markets, he has already become a very important asset to the success of the MN Blue Ox. The fact that we will have the most mature (and tallest) coaching staff in Junior A’ hockey, is a testament to our ownership group wanting to give our players the best experience possible. We are father’s of hockey players first, hockey coaches second. And that is a great comfort to many parents who trust in us to take care of their players for several months away from home. I really look forward to working with Jason, not only this season, but for many seasons to come.”
GOALIE COUNSELOR | USA Hockey Level 4 Certified Coaching Certification
Mark is a lifelong rink rat who grew up playing goaltender in the Bloomington Jefferson youth program. He is USA Hockey Level 4 certified and is entering his 17th year of coaching youth and high school goaltenders in Waconia. Schiffman is currently the goaltender coach for Waconia High School boys hockey, residing in Waconia with his wife Kelly and their three sons.
By day, Schiffman is executive director of a non-profit association focused with more than 25 years of public affairs and government relations experience. He’s a University of Minnesota-Duluth graduate and earned an MA from Hamline University.
POWER SKATING INSTRUCTOR
Katie was skating as soon as she was walking and some might argue that she skates better than she walks! Skating is in her blood. Katie comes from a very big hockey family but chose toe picks and tu-tus over hockey equipment and a stick. It’s a good thing she did it ensured that everyone knew just how important skating was and learned the right way to skate.
Katie had an exciting competitive figure skating career starting at 3 years old that spanned over 15 years and has been a power skating coach for close to 20 years. Diane Ness (Pro Edge Power Skating Founder) was Katie’s first figure skating coach before she made the switch to hockey full time and Katie worked under Diane Ness as an instructor for 15 years. She learned from the best in the business! Katie has extensive skating experience teaching a strong, balanced, and focused power skating session. Improvement is the overall goal, she helps gain this by introducing, developing, and refining players skating. Katie brings clear understanding of skaters edges and control of their bodies in the game. Her goal is to provide the proper techniques and skills to provide skaters the necessary tools to become powerful, fluid skaters/players. Katie works with teams individually, associations, and offers private lessons.
Katie is married to her husband Nick and they just had their first child (hockey player) this fall. When Katie isn’t on the ice she’s usually still at the rink taking in a game. When she can pull herself away from the rink you’ll find her at the cabin, taking in anything outdoors, her nose in a book or enjoying anything that involves her family and friends!
Contact Katie (612)242-8091 or firstname.lastname@example.org
STRENGTH & NUTRITION – PERSONAL TRAINER
For the past 15 years Bobby has devoted his life to helping others preform at their best both mentally and physically. Currently Bobby owns and operates Lifestyle Fitness in Andover MN.
He coaches a wide variety of different areas including; fitness competitions, weight loss, in/off season youth sports including; hockey, swimming, baseball, football, and volleyball.
Bobby brings an undeniable energy and education to the Minnesota Blue Ox organization. His programming with the right nutrition, and strength and conditioning is sure to bring out the best in our squad this season. We are so excited to have Bobby on board!
MARKETING & GAMEDAY SUPPORT STAFF
Travis grew up skating and playing hockey at Fogerty Ice Arena for the Blaine Bengals, where he fell in love with the game! After graduating from Blaine High School, Travis played a year of college football at Upper Iowa University.
After college, Travis decided to enlist in the U.S. Army National Guard, as a Unmanned Aircraft Mechanic. Once he returned home from Army training he began coaching youth hockey in Coon Rapids and became a Minnesota Blue Ox supporter! We are excited to have Travis on our Marketing team! Anyone looking to become a Blue Ox corporate sponsor just shoot Travis an email or phone call below and explore the many opportunities we have! Sponsorships start as low as $500 and range all the way up to $10,000 plus. Our game day marketing motto is “As long as it’s legal….and no one gets hurt, we can promote it!”
Contact Travis (763) 478-1597 or Travis.email@example.com
PLAY BY PLAY ANNOUNCER
Tom is an aspiring play by play broadcaster. He is the son of Minnesota play by play icon Dan Terhaar. Tom is currently employed at 103.3 KNSI Radio in St Cloud doing radio play by play for multiple sports. He is also employed at Managers on a Mission a non profit out of St Louis Park. Tom graduated from Andover High School and this will be his second season with the Blue Ox.
PUBLIC ADDRESS ANNOUNCER | USPHL LEAGUE STATS
Jeff Kehr has been a frequent public address announcer at Coon Rapids Ice Center over the past five years. He has enjoyed calling both boy’s and girl’s hockey games, and is the current Master of Ceremonies of the Ice Fantasy skating show held here every spring. Since his early days as Voice of the Cadets for St. Thomas Academy, Jeff has continued to hone his skills when opportunities arise. When Jeff is not sitting behind a microphone, he can be seen managing the operations staff at Target Center as Director of Operations. Jeff is a resident of Coon Rapids and is supported by his wife, three children, and their many friends!
CERTIFIED ATHLETIC TRAINER
Kristen begins her first year with the MN Blue Ox as the Head Athletic Trainer for the team. She has been a certified athletic trainer for four years and is currently employed by Twin Cities Orthopedics; the official sports medicine provider of the MN Blue Ox.
Kristen completed her undergraduate degree in Exercise Science with a minor in Psychology from Hamline University in 2012. She went on to earn her master’s degree in Athletic Training from North Dakota State University’s Masters of Athletic Training program in 2014. Immediately following graduation, Kristen returned to her alma matter and began working as a Certified Athletic Trainer at Hamline University. After working for one year with the university, she was brought on to the Twin Cities Orthopedics staff and assigned to Hamline University where she completed an additional three years.
Kristen has always had a passion for sports. She was a dancer for 14 years and has played tennis for 18 years. She played tennis competitively at both the high school and collegiate levels. Kristen, a native resident to Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, enjoys baking, going mini golfing, being on the lake, cheering on her Minnesota sports teams, and spending quality time with her family and friends.
Kristen is a member of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association.
Mike graduated from UW-Stout in 1983 with a BS in Hotel/Restaurant Management, and spent five years running hotels. Mike now works as a life insurance underwriter for a major carrier for past 28 years. Married to my wife Connie with three grown boys. All of Mike’s boys went through the hockey programs in Coon Rapids and graduated from Coon Rapids High School. Mike has been running clocks and doing scorebooks as well as playing music for hockey games for youth, high school, and NAHL games for over 20 years in Coon Rapids. Mike annually teaches classes to hockey parents on how to run the clock and fill out the scorebook. Mike looks forward to bringing his skills to the Blue Ox, and a great inaugural season in Coon Rapids.
MARKETING & FAN ENGAGEMENT
Emily is a recent alumna of the University of Minnesota where she studied Human Resource Development, Political Science and Leadership. Emily has always been involved in sports; growing up playing basketball and softball and being a dedicated Gopher sports fan along with all other professional Minnesota sports. This past fall during her senior year, Emily was coronated one of the University of Minnesota’s Homecoming Royals, becoming the official ambassador for school pride and spirit. Emily recently finished a year-long internship with Caribou Coffee and has since joined the Minneapolis Final Four Local Organizing Committee as a volunteer and the Minnesota United FC on their Hospitality and Promotions team. Emily is passionate about sport as a vehicle for change in our communities as well as an outspoken supporter for female athletics. Her goal is to one day return back to the University of Minnesota to become the Athletic Director for all sport programs. When Emily is not working and busy pursuing her goals, she enjoys reading, drinking copious amounts of coffee, attending sporting events and hanging out on Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes.
ASSISTANT GAME DAY OPS & MARKETING
Meghann has always been an avid sports fan, but particularly loves hockey, football and gymnastics the most. After a 14 year career as a gymnast, Meghann moved on to coaching youth gymnastics in the Mankato area where she attended school. In her four years at Mankato, Meghann completed a marketing internship with the Minnesota Vikings Training Camp, a marketing and promotions internship with the Minnesota State Mavericks Athletic Department and an internship with K&G Gymnastics as well. Now residing in Ames, Iowa, Meghann has taken on a National Sales Representative position with ATS Logistics and is loving the ISU Cyclone culture in Ames. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, spending time with her siblings, and exploring her new home state! Meghann is returning for her second season with the Minnesota Blue Ox and can’t wait to see all of the amazing fans once again!
Eric Wicklund joins the Blue Ox as the team’s photographer. His “day job” is in technical sales engineering. He is currently Sales Engineer Director for tech startup Cohesity. Eric is a life-long Twin Cities’ resident and hockey lover. He has been a sports photographer for over 8 years with a passion for Hockey, MMA, Kickboxing and every activity the kids are in. When he’s not working, biking, or taking photos, he enjoys spending time with his family (Wife Renee, Kids Kayla 18 & Tori 16)
GAME DAY OPERATIONS
Lily Durand is a Junior at the University of Minnesota. Lily is studying elementary education with hopes to one day be a second grade teacher. She loves the Blue Ox because it is a corporation built on teamwork and passion, not only for the game of hockey, but for the people in the Blue Ox family. She appreciates that the Blue Ox ownership preaches to its players – life lessons – not only being a good team player, but also being a good, responsible and accountable individual. Lily is also an avid hockey and football fan and can be found cheering on her beloved Minnesota Wild and Vikings football teams!
GAME DAY OPERATIONS
I never played hockey growing up, but picked it up in my adult years as the game always intrigued me. I started coaching last year for the Coon Rapids Youth Hockey Association to share my passion for the game. I love the energy at the Blue Ox games and how involved the team is in the community.
GRAPHICS & MARKETING INTERN
Ben Anderson is a senior at Waconia High School. He has always enjoyed playing sports, but his true passion is hockey. Ben’s love for the sport started early. He began playing hockey at the mite level, continuing through two years on the high school team. This season Ben will be the manager for the Waconia High School team. Among other things, as manager Ben hopes to combine his interest in graphic design and social media to help increase the team’s presence within the community. When Ben isn’t focused on hockey, he enjoys being outdoors and hanging out with friends. Next fall Ben plans to go to college to pursue a career in sports management, marketing and graphic design. Ben is excited to join the Blue Ox staff to learn the ins and outs of junior hockey.