Written by: Samuel Nemec

After 50 years with the University of Wisconsin-Stout hockey program, Terry Watkins is retiring from the head coaching position.

Watkins first came to Stout back in 1967 as a player on the hockey team. He grew up and played juniors in St. Paul, MN. Soon after, Watkins became an assistant coach and then the club team coach when the hockey program was discontinued in 1982 due to Title IX.

Watkins would successfully revive the discontinued program in 1996. “A bunch of kids in the later ’80s asked me if I would restart the program,” Watkins said.

Watkins would go on to be the head coach of the varsity squad for 24 years scoring the second-most wins among the WIAC all-time coaching list with 273 wins. In 2008, Watkins lead the team to a 23-6-2 record and won their first-ever NCHA tournament title which earned them the right to play in the NCAA tournament. The Blue Devils advanced to the NCAA Division III semi-finals that year in New York and would have four players receive national individual honors.

Watkins is a three-time WIAC coach of the year and was selected as the NCHA Coach of the Year in 2006-2007. As head coach of Stout’s Men’s Hockey, Watkins recorded an all-time record of 273-340-43.

“I’ll miss the players and the competition,” Watkins said. “You play 25-30 games and you get pretty attached to the kids and the competition.”

It is clear how much Watkins means to the men’s hockey program at Stout after talking to senior forward Adam Kresl. 

“The position he has been in over the past few decades, I think it is safe to say without him on the bench, putting on events, helping out around the rink, helping the students and his efforts to fundraise, that the possibility of having a program in the first place would be in question,” Kresl said.

According to players, Watkins’ passion for the game and genuine care for the players made him special.

“Terry was special because of the joy, passion and excitement he brought to the rink every day,” Kresl explained. “The passion he brought every day, year by year, is what drove him to build what Stout is today.”

Kresl added, “I’d like to personally thank Terry Watkins for his contributions to Stout and for giving me a chance to be along for the ride. It was an honor to play for a truly genuine man so dedicated and involved.”

Not only did Watkins resurge the hockey program from discontinuation, but he also did the same with the men’s golf program as well. After the program was cut in the early 1990’s Watkins took over as head coach in 2006 until 2015. In that span, Watkins would take his team to the NCAA Divisional III championships three times. With men’s golf, Watkins recorded an all-time record of 802-309.

When asked what he was most proud of with his time at Stout, with 50 years of experience it was too difficult to have just one thing in particular.

“A number of things,” Watkins said. “We had some really good teams and players. Some All-Americans and nation-leading scorers. The teammates that I played with over 50 years ago. The people and the competition. I still like to compete.”

Watkins may be stepping away as head coach of the men’s hockey team, but he said he isn’t done with coaching completely.

“I’ll still be involved in coaching something. Maybe hockey with the youth or high school,” Watkins said. “But I’ll be doing something. I can’t be sitting on my butt doing nothing.”

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