Morris has been coaching various levels for 37 years
by Bryan Zollman (email@example.com)
Long-tenured coaches are becoming rare these days, which is why those who stand the test of time are often rewarded for their dedication, resiliency and passion for the game of hockey.
Lakeville South Girls Hockey Coach Tim Morris has been coaching hockey at various levels for 37 years. In honor of his dedication and service not just to the game of hockey, but to those who play it, he will be inducted into the 2023 Minnesota State High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame October 14.
Morris grew up in the Chicago area and didn’t start playing hockey until third grade.
“Two years later as a peewee we won our league championship,” said Morris. “I was hooked.”
He picked up on the game quickly and transitioned form a C-level player to an A player in just a couple years. He played four years of high school hockey in Illinois and was an all-star his junior and senior seasons. After high school he attended St. Cloud State University, but didn’t make the cut and instead played four years of club hockey.
His coaching career began in 1986 coaching youth hockey in the Roseville and Edison programs until 1993. That’s when he became an assistant varsity coach at Fridley High School. His first head coaching job at the high school level came in 1995 when he took over the Totino-Grace girls program. He coached at Totino until 2001 when he made the move to Eden Prairie’s girls program where he was the bench boss until 2011. From 2011-2108 he was assistant coach at Blaine High School and in 2018 took over at Lakeville South where he will enter his sixth season at the helm.
Morris’ love for the game is what motivated him to begin coaching in the first place 37 long years ago.
“I found that coaching was a way for me to stay involved with the game of hockey that I had come to love,” he said. “Later it was the relationships with other coaches and my players that really fueled my desire to keep coaching.”
Coaching high school hockey for 31 years has been an education of sorts for Morris.
“I know as a younger coach I made some decisions that I would not make today,’ he said. “Just like learning to play the game, coaches get better as they progress through their coaching journey.”
Too often these days young coaches make mistakes and are not given second chances and are sometimes run out by parent groups. Morris would like to see that change.
“Parents need to let newer coaches make those early mistakes so they can learn and grow,” he said.
Not only has coaching changed, so has the game itself. Morris began coaching girls high school hockey at its inception and has been a head coach every year since 1995.
“The biggest change has been the growth in numbers and the quality of the play,” he said. “No offense to some of the very early state champions, but some of today’s JV teams could have been state champions back in the day.”
That’s not a bad thing. That means the game has evolved rapidly with much credit going to coaches like Morris.
“Part of the reason girls high school hockey has prospered in Minnesota has been the dedication of so many individuals — coaches, players, administrators and supporters,” he said. “The level of play continues to escalate, the level of coaching continues to mature, and the players’ level of overall athletecism continues to break barriers.”
Minnesota has become a hotbed for young female hockey players and the game has served as a springboard for many young women to further their education and playing careers at the college level. Ask any college coach on the east coast and they will tell you their No. 1 recruiting hotbed is the State of Hockey.
“I am very proud of how many opportunities we have provided to countless players to further their playing careers and educational experiences as a result of their participation in high school hockey,” Morris said.
In addition to serving behind the bench, Morris has also served as executive director of the Minnesota Girls Hockey Coaches Association since 2003. He took over the position for Charlie Stryker who, on the morning after the Senior Classic in Blaine in 2003, passed away of a heart attack.
“I keep the photo of the team Charlie was coaching the day before he died in my office to remember to do what’s right even when nobody is looking,” said Morris. “He, along with Brano Stankovsky, Bill and Barb Halbrehder and many others have helped support the MGCHA vision and to grow it to where it is today.”
Morris will be inducted along with Mark Curley (Roseville), Erin Herman (Hill-Murray), John Hardgrove (Stillwater) and Lonnie Morton (Mabel-Canton) on Oct. 14. Morris said he is honored to receive the award and thankful for the support he has received along his coaching journey.
“I am grateful to have had so many people who have provided me their expertise, dedication, friendship, love and empathy over the years,” he said. “I hope I can provide that same level of support to those new coaches starting out on their own coaching journey.”