Familiar faces take over head coaching spots
June 24, 2022
The local coaching landscape will take on a new look this winter as two well-known coaches have decided to resign their positions, while one former coach is making a comeback and another will be making her first appearance as a head coach.
After 14 years as head girls basketball coach in Esko, Scott Antonutti has decided to spend more time watching his son Joe play hockey for the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton boys hockey team. In Cloquet, seven-year head girls hockey coach Courtney Olin will also leave the program to pursue her degree in administration.
In an interesting twist, as Antonutti leaves the always successful girls Esko basketball program, a former coach with an impressive resume will return. Sue Northey is back, after taking a break since 2006-2007. Northey coached for 18 years in Esko. Antonutti actually coached for Northey in the 1997-98 season in the Esko program.
“I’ve missed a lot of my two sons' winter activities and I don’t want to miss them anymore,” said Antonutti. “Joe will be a junior next year, so I only have two seasons to watch him play hockey. I only made it to a handful of games last year.”
The program will be in good hands with Northey’s return. Northey never really left the program, as she coached in the middle school program for Antonutti.
“We have a community that loves basketball, has great facilities and dedicated parents,” Antonutti said. “All of those things make for a great recipe for success.”
Antonutti’s teams made three state tournament appearances, including a third-place finish in 2014.
“I would like to mention that Tim Lindquist was my assistant for all 14 seasons,” Antonutti said. “I was also Tim’s assistant coach for eight track seasons when he was the head girls track coach. He was also my track coach in 1989, my junior year. He went from coach, to mentor, to great friend over the last 33 years.”
In Cloquet, Cloquet and St. Scholastica standout Olin will be handing the reins over to another CSS alumni, Kennedy Houge. Houge played high school hockey at Hill-Murray in the Twin Cities, where she graduated in 2015. After graduating from high school, Houge played at CSS for four years before graduating in 2019.
Houge came to Cloquet after St. Scholastica coach Jackie MacMillan recommended her. She coached the junior varsity for Courtney and was a varsity assistant this past year.
The new head coach is a firm believer in an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach to the CEC program.
“We will work hard on defense and continue to play the type of defense people expect here,” said Houge. “I love the potential we have in the program and we’ll continue to work at playing good solid hockey.”
As for Olin, her run as a coach included an impressive runner-up finish a few years ago at the Minnesota state high school tournament. As a high school student, Olin (then Courtney Esse) played for legendary coach Dick Bartholdi and was on the last CEC girls team to make the state tournament in 2009 before she took the team back as head coach in 2020.
“It’s been an honor and a privilege to be a part of the Lumberjack hockey community,” said Olin. “I feel grateful for the time I was able to be a part of the program and all of the great memories created.“
Olin feels the program will be in good hands under Houge.
“It’s great to see another female hired as a coach, as I don’t think there are enough female coaches in the girls hockey community,” said Olin. “Kennedy works very hard and will do a great job as the new head coach.”