Wildcats, Huskies voted near bottom of GLIAC football coaches poll

By Blake Froling

Football season is almost upon us, which means it’s officially preseason polls season. Northern Michigan University and Michigan Tech might not like what they see from the GLIAC coaches poll released today.

The Wildcats were picked to finish seventh in the conference after a disappointing 1-9 campaign in 2017. They return GLIAC Offensive Back of the Year Jake Mayon, who rushed for 1,377 yards and eight touchdowns last season. Quarterback Ryan Johnson also returns after starting as a freshman, he threw for 1,581 yards, nine touchdowns and four interceptions..

The defense is what will ultimately decide if the Wildcats can rise above seventh in the conference. The unit finished seventh in the conference in points allowed, last in yards allowed and tied for seventh in sacks.

Michigan Tech was picked to finish eighth in the conference after going 3-6 in 2017. The offense was anemic at times as the Huskies finished ninth in scoring.

The GLIAC will have just nine football teams this season after Tiffin University moved to the Great Midwest Athletic Conference.

Photo: @GLIACsports Twitter

Rae Drake returns to Tech men’s basketball coaching staff

HOUGHTON, Mich. – Michigan Tech Head Coach Kevin Luke is pleased to officially announce that Rae Drake will join the men’s basketball staff as an assistant coach for the 2018-19 season. Drake was an assistant coach with the men’s program for five seasons (2005-06 to 2009-10) and then spent one year with the Tech women’s basketball team when they advanced to the NCAA Division II National Championship game in 2010-11.

“We are excited that Rae is coming back to help the program,” Coach Luke said. “He has been an asset at every program where he has been a coach. Rae is very knowledgeable, intense, loves the competition and the challenge and we are looking forward to having him help us.”

Drake launched the Bay College women’s basketball program as the head coach in 2017-18, guiding the team to a 14-11 record in their inaugural season. The Norse won four of five games down the stretch to cap the year and secure a winning record.

In Drake’s first stint as an assistant coach for the Tech men’s program, he played a key role in scouting and player development. During those five years, the Huskies advanced to the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament four times and finished second in the North Division in 2007-08.

Drake helped guide the women’s basketball program to the national title game in 2011, finishing the season with an overall record of 31-3. The Huskies claimed both the GLIAC North Division regular season championship and the GLIAC tournament crown during the 2010-11 campaign.

Prior to arriving at Tech, Drake coached Upper Peninsula high school boys’ basketball for 23 years. He spent nine seasons as the head coach at West Iron County where he complied a 121-72 record, including seven conference championships and two district titles. He previously served 14 years as an assistant coach at Iron Mountain.

The Huskies finished the 2017-18 season with an overall record of 15-14 and advanced to the their 21st appearance in the GLIAC Tournament under Head Coach Kevin Luke. Tech reached the semifinals for the 17th time in 2017-18 and has three tournament titles during that stretch.

Photo courtesy Michigan Tech athletics

Bob Olson memorial service set for July 19

HOUGHTON, Mich. – The memorial service for Bob Olson will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, July 19 at The Church of the Resurrection in Hancock. Olson, the original “Voice of the Huskies,” passed away on March 3 in Middletown, Connecticut at the age of 87.

A native of Superior, Wisconsin, Olson began broadcasting Michigan Tech athletic events back in 1969 when he and partner, the late Joe Blake, purchased WMPL AM & FM in Hancock.

Olson relocated to the Copper Country from Hurley, Wisconsin. He started broadcasting Huskies sports with men’s basketball and football. A lengthy meeting with legendary hockey coach John MacInnes led to adding hockey to the WMPL lineup. Olson called his first Husky hockey game on November 13, 1970.

Olson was known as the Dean of Broadcasters in all of college hockey and did hockey play-by-play for 32 seasons until his retirement after the 2000-01 season.

Olson is the originator of the WMPL College Hockey Poll-the first of its kind in the nation. WMPL also served as the clearinghouse for all of the country’s college hockey scores with its call-in score service run by Bob and his wife Edda. She preceded him in death in 2000.

A true community-minded individual, Olson served as president of the Michigan Tech Blueline Club (1987-91), as a member of the Michigan Tech Community Advisory Committee, on Tech’s Sports Promotion Committee (1987-92), and on the Hockey Coach Search Committee (1992).

Olson was inducted into the Michigan Tech Sports Hall of Fame in 1994. He also received the Otto Breitenbach WCHA Distinguished Service Award in 1997 and the American Hockey Coaches Association Jim Fullerton Award in 1996 for someone “who gave as much as he received and never stopped caring about the direction in which our game was heading.”

The press box at the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena is named in his honor. The Bob Olson Broadcast Center was dedicated during Winter Carnival 2001. The Tech men’s basketball team hands out yearly the Bob Olson Award to the team’s top newcomer.

Photo courtesy of Michigan Tech Athletics

Schmitz joins Michigan Tech women’s basketball coaching staff

HOUGHTON, Mich. – Michigan Tech Head Coach Sam Hoyt is pleased to announce that Jason Schmitz will be joining the women’s basketball program as an assistant coach. Schmitz has spent the past four seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Mary (N.D.), an NCAA Division II program in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.

“I’m incredibly excited and honored to be named the assistant women’s basketball coach at Michigan Tech,” Schmitz said. “After visiting the campus on my interview, I knew it was a place that I wanted to be. The tradition of the program sells itself to anyone who comes into contact with it and I’m excited to become part of the family. I’m thankful to Coach Hoyt and the rest of the selection committee for giving me this opportunity. Coach Hoyt has an incredible amount of love and passion for the university and the basketball team, and I cannot wait to get to work to continue to build on the past success of the program.”

During his tenure at the University of Mary, Schmitz coached Brittany Dietz who went on to become the program’s all-time leading scorer. She also holds the NSIC single season scoring record and earned All-American honors. Schmitz also coached the NSIC Freshman of the Year Gabbie Bohl along with five All-NSIC Team members, two All-NSIC Defensive Team members, two All-NSIC Freshman Team members, and three 1,000 point scorers.

Photo: Michigan Tech athletics

Schmitz was an integral part of the University of Mary program where he was responsible for all player development, creating and developing all defensive scouting reports, game plans, and film edits. Schmitz also served as the recruiting coordinator where he signed players from 10 different states to the program. He also assisted in practice planning, game management, and was the camp coordinator.

“I’m thrilled to have Coach Schmitz join our staff,” Hoyt said. “He brings a unique skill set, having already been a high school head coach. Jason is also a proven recruiter at the NCAA Division II level. I am confident his basketball IQ, work ethic, and interpersonal skills will be of great value to this team and program.”

Prior to arriving at Mary, Schmitz was the Head Girls Basketball Coach at Oakes High School in North Dakota. In addition, he was the interim Athletic Director at Oakes and the Athletic Director at Wing Public School. Schmitz also spent time at Worcester State as a Graduate Assistant to the athletic director and baseball program.

Schmitz graduated from the University of Mary in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Behavioral Education. Schmitz completed is Maters of Education degree from Worcester State in 2010.

Courtesy of Michigan Tech athletics