Kelly Rider has stepped down from her position as the head coach of the women's hockey program at Northland College to pursue other professional opportunities, it was announced Thursday.
Rider was the first-ever women's hockey coach at Northland. She started the program in 2015 and recently saw her original recruiting class graduate this past season. In her second year in charge, Rider's program beat Adrian College, which at the time was ranked No. 2 in the country and coming off of an appearance in the NCAA Division III National Championship.
Rider improved the program year after year, and in 2019 guided the Jills in their inaugural season in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, which is regularly regarded as one of the top hockey conferences in the country.
"It's been an honor to be part of the building of Jills hockey with all of our players the past five years," said Rider. "I'm proud of each player's individual growth on and off the ice and thankful for all their time and efforts. It's been special to watch the development and growth as a program, from the first commitment, the first game, the first win, the first graduates, and now the next generation of Jills hockey. I'm excited to see all that the program and players continue to accomplish."
"Coach Rider has been an instrumental figure in constructing our first-ever women's hockey program and we wish her luck in her next chapter," commented Interim Athletic Director Seamus Gregory. "Through her hard work she made what was essentially a dream become a reality. Northland College women's hockey is one of the pillars of our department with a thriving roster, and from the diligent efforts of Coach Rider it will remain that way forever. The student-athletes we have on our current roster and our incoming players will continue the strong tradition she built and move the program forward in a very positive direction in the WIAC and beyond."
A national search is currently underway for the head coaching position. The Jills will be returning for their second year in the WIAC in 2020, and they have already announced a large recruiting class from across North America.
"We have an unbelievable hockey community here in the City of Ashland," commented Gregory. "The support is phenomenal for both our hockey programs and we look forward to the national search for our next head coach."
Northland College is an NCAA Division III institution located in Ashland, WI. The LumberJacks and LumberJills sponsor 14 varsity sports and compete in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference and the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.