When the job offer came her way, Aubri Lindberg understood full well what she was getting herself into.
Now, two weeks into her first stint as a girls high school hockey head coach, the change she talked about then is already coming to fruition for the North Metro girls hockey program.
Lindberg’s first order of business was providing a haven for the players she is pulling from Park Center, Osseo, Columbia Heights, Friday and Brooklyn Center high schools.
So, in an effort to spruce up the locker room, Lindberg had it gutted and then remodeled with individual stalls for every player, complete with a sparkling new high definition television and surround sound system for the girls to enjoy.
The renovation was a must, she said last week, to the point where it needed “a women’s touch.”
“It was really bad in there,” said Lindberg during a Nov. 7 unveiling of both the new digs, and her new team. “When these girls come to the rink, the locker room is a home for them. We wanted to give them that feeling, because the old locker room felt more like a dungeon than a home.”
The hope is now that the players can feel just as comfortable on the ice.
North Metro’s first season as a program in 2007 produced a Class AA state championship game appearance. A year ago, the team was nowhere close, finishing just 2-24.
Lindberg had a first-hand view at both of those teams. She was a senior at Anoka during the 2007 season, when her Tornadoes dropped three games to North Metro.
After graduating from Anoka, Lindberg got right into coaching. She spent her first two years as an assistant with Coon Rapids, before spending the previous two year’s in the same capacity at Champlin Park.
“I remember how good they were that first year, and I remember how bad things seemed last year for them,” Lindberg said. “But I don’t think it was as bad last year as the record showed. There are some players here to work with, and to build and develop this program with.”
In retrospect, the program might have just been in the need of the type of energetic spark Lindberg is confident she can provide.
The players have already taken notice, mainly in practice, where their new coach not only runs the drills, but participates as well.
“A lot of us are visual learners,” said senior Rachel Hegerle. “She can demonstrate what she is trying to teach us, and that has been great. It has made a huge difference during practice.”
What Lindberg is able to provide from the bench during games is yet to be determined, but she’s excited to find out.
“It will be different calling all the shots,” Lindberg admitted, “But I’m ready for it. I’ve been waiting for this opportunity since the day I decided to get into coaching.”
Her debut came Nov. 8, when North Metro lost at home to No. 16 Hopkins 7-1.
Senior Taylor Anderson scored the Stars lone goal early in the second period, but considering the opponent, the measuring stick of an opportunity was not a great one.
What North Metro will be more concerned about is how it fairs in the Northwest Suburban Conference season. The Stars were scheduled to open the conference season at Champlin Park Nov. 13.
The better part of the early portion of the year will be spent on breaking most of the players into their first varsity hockey experience, including a trio of ninth-graders that will be counted on to contribute.
Lindberg noted she was already surprised with how many of the girls have picked up on the pace of play and physical nature of this level, saying the confidence is already brewing for a team that expects to be the surprise of its conference.
Her players have noticed as well.
“We’ll be stronger than what we were last year, and we will catch a lot of teams off guard,” said senior Meghan Held. “We will go into games knowing we have a chance. It wasn’t always that way last year. But as a team, that brings up the spirit.”