Former Alexandria Blizzard coach Doc DelCastillo knows being a hockey coach means being flexible and open to new opportunities.
Never was that point pounded home more clearly than in the last month. DelCastillo spent the last three years in Alexandria and was set to move with the Blizzard organization’s Tier II team to Brookings.
Doc and his wife Sue have six daughters who were all prepared to make the move to South Dakota before DelCastillo received an offer to become the next head coach at Hamline University. It was an offer he felt he had to jump at, and the Pipers officially announced him today as the successor to former coach Scott Steffen.
“Our family was packing boxes to move to Brookings,” DelCastillo told me by phone this afternoon. “Now the same boxes are going to be moving to the Twin Cities. We were in the process of getting ready to move. Our internet search for where we want to move to has just changed destinations. The last few weeks have been somewhat stressful. These are good things and good opportunities, but any time changes come for a family like ours, it brings some worries.”
The Blizzard announced on its website that DelCastillo’s assistant in Alexandria, Jeff Crouse, has been named the new head coach for the NA3HL team that will stay in Alexandria. A search is currently underway for the new head coach for the Tier II team in Brookings.
The move to St. Paul is a bit of a homecoming for DelCastillo. He grew up just four blocks from the Hamline campus and was an all-state forward at Hill-Murray High School before playing four seasons at St. Cloud State University. Doc’s mother worked at Hamline and his sister, Melissa, attended school there and swam for the Pipers.
“It’s been a while since I’ve lived there,” he said. “But it’s a very comfortable situation for me. That’s a benefit. We’ve never really lived close to a lot of relatives, and I think I’ll have that situation here.”
The whole process was filled with mixed emotions for the DelCastillo family. Five of his six daughters are old enough to play hockey and were constantly on the go at tournaments. With Doc on the road so much with the Blizzard, the family relied heavily on families in the community to get the girls from place to place.
“Never once did one of my girls miss a tourney,” DelCastillo said. “There’s always people opening up their arms and cars saying, ‘They can come with us.’ We’re really appreciative of that. The community of Alexandria made it really easy on us to live there and function there.”
In the end, the opportunity to move up the ranks and get back into college coaching was too good to pass up.
“I’m no different than the players,” DelCastillo said. “I really tried to improve on my skill set as far as coaching and dealing with the players in the three years I was in Alexandria. I really appreciate the opportunity that [Blizzard owners] Chris and Mitri [Canavati] gave me.
“I’m appreciative to the players. I always preach to our players that if the team is successful then individuals are successful. I’m just a reflection of the sweat that the players have put in during the three years I was there.”