The College of St. Scholastica’s Chad Salmela has been named the CCSA men’s coach of the year, and Northern Michigan’s Sten Fjeldheim earned the CCSA women’s coach of the year award, the conference office announced Thursday.
Picking up where he left off after a landmark 2011-12 season, Salmela continues to lead a young program (this season marked just the seventh year of St. Scholastica’s skiing) forward in leaps and bounds. Among the Saints’ accomplishments this season include a first-ever podium spot at NCAA regionals, as the men’s team took third in Houghton last week. Salmela also helped Jeremy Hecker to his second straight NCAA appearance – the first skier in Saints’ history to compete at multiple national championships. In addition to the consistency of Hecker, who finished outside of the CCSA top six only once all season, Salmela’s men’s team also demonstrated their depth this season, with Scott Johanik, Nick Power and Chris Parr all playing vital roles for the Saints.
“It is a nice honor to be recognized by your peer group for doing something that they wish to recognize,” Salmela said. “To me, my job is all about being coach of the year to my athletes, and that drives me more than anything. But it’s nice to have coaches who have accomplished so much and have so many years of success, give you a nod to what you do. I am very honored to receive this award.”
Fjeldheim, meanwhile, enjoyed another exceptional season at the helm of the Northern Michigan’s women’s team. Fjeldheim helped guide the team to the CCSA Championship title for the second straight season. With arguably the deepest team in the region, the Wildcats qualified a full women’s contingent for next week’s NCAA Championships and claimed four of the top five spots on the final CCSA rankings, including the top overall female skier in Rosie Frankowski.
“In all my years of coaching, this is one of the most delightful teams I’ve ever had,” Fjeldheim said. “They make my job easy. They are all very humble and coachable, and help to create a really enjoyable atmosphere.”
Both Salmela and Fjeldheim now head to Middlebury, Vt. for next week’s NCAA championships, with the interval start classic races scheduled for March 7 and the mass start freestyle event set for March 9. All events at the NCAA Championships will be streamed live at www.ncaa.com.