OWNER / GENERAL MANAGER / HEAD COACH
Coach Witta just completed his 4th year of head coaching Junior A’ hockey and second year of ownership with the Blue Ox, finishing with an impressive 34-19-3 and a Final Four USPHL Premier National Tournament appearance, losing in the semi finals to the Metro Jets who then lost in the Championship to The Hampton Roads Whalers. Witta improved his career coaching record to 134-63-6 this past season and helped give the Blue Ox their first ever National Tournament appearance in two years! During his four year coaching career, Witta has helped promote over 15 players to the TIER 2 LEVEL as well as a dozen players onto NCAA and ACHA college hockey.
During his prior two seasons of owning the Blue Ox, 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.
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 Championship 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 email@example.com
STRENGTH & CONDITIONING COACH
For the past 15 years Bobby has devoted his life to helping others preform at their best both mentally and physically. Currently Bobby owns Poweredge Training located in the Coon Rapids Sports & Recreation Center. Prior to Poweredge Training, Bobby owned and operated 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, lacrosse, swimming, baseball, football, softball 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 again this season!
MARKETING & GAMEDAY SUPPORT STAFF
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!
TWIN CITIES ORTHOPEDICS ATHLETIC TRAINER
Kristen begins her second 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 for many seasons to come.
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 third 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 company Arctic Wolf. 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 20 & Tori 18)
GAME DAY HELPER
A Junior at Minnetonka High School, Griffin brings 3 years of Blue Ox Game Day Operations experience to the club. He is in charge of helping organize all 20 plus home game Blue Ox Promotions, Fan engagement and works hand in hand with Meghann with making sure each Blue Ox home game is an awesome experience for all our wonderful fans! With over 47,000 followers on his Instagram business account @catchers_only, Griffin is a true social media pioneer. He has grown his following organically (not paid followers) and has increased his ad revenue for clients each of the last three years. When Griffin is not helping the Blue Ox in the Winter months you can find him on the mound training/pitching for the Minnetonka Skippers Baseball Club.
GAME DAY HELPER
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.