Chad Kresky was thrilled to become the new head coach of the Denfeld girls soccer team this season. Kresky, 24, a 1997 graduate of Denfeld, was a standout player in both high school and at the College of St. Scholastica.

"I've wanted to coach Denfeld for years," said Kresky. "There was an opening this year so I went for it."

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Kresky comes back to Denfeld in an unfamiliar position, the bench. Kresky was a starter since eighth grade during his playing days for the Hunters, and a captain his senior season.

As a Saint, Kresky played all four years in college and was a team captain his junior and senior seasons. Kresky obtained his master's degree in exercise physiology with an emphasis in cardiac rehabilitation in 2002, while serving as an assistant to the women's soccer team at CSS. Last season, Kresky served as an assistant with both the women's and men's teams. He has also coached with the Gitchi Gummi Soccer Club in Duluth at the youth level.

"My time at St. Scholastica was good," said Kresky. "It's good soccer at a high quality."

Now that Kresky is a head coach, he could not think of a better place to be than at Denfeld. "I've been through the system," said Kresky. "I'm very comfortable here."

The Hunters have a 2-2 record with victories over rivals Duluth Marshall and Cloquet, a loss to Proctor, and a season-opening loss to defending Class AA State Champion Wayzata.

Coaching at Denfeld has also given Kresky the opportunity to coach his sister, Shannon, in her senior season. "I just look at him as my coach," said Shannon Kresky. "It's nice because he's experienced, and the team respected him right away when they saw he could play."

Senior Kallie Shelerud, who shares captaining duties with Shannon Kresky, says she looks forward to practices with her new coach. "He (Kresky) makes us work hard," said Shelerud, who has been battling near-stress fractures in both feet. "He knows what he's doing."

After being hired in late July, Kresky had to prepare immediately for tryouts in mid-August. "This was by far the toughest tryout I've ever had to deal with," said Kresky. "We had 56 girls tryout, which is great from a numbers standpoint, but difficult because we had to cut 20 players completely."

Since the first day of tryouts, Kresky has seen a vast improvement from his team. "We've improved 10 times from the first day and that was only a couple of weeks ago," said Kresky. "If we keep going at this rate come mid-season, I like our chances in the conference. It's all about peaking at the right time."

Joining Kresky on the bench as assistant coach is former University of Minnesota Duluth women's soccer player Liz Smith.

The Hunters have four seniors on the squad this season and are hoping for contributions from everyone. Denfeld has seen production from top players like Shannon Kresky, junior midfielder Sara Oliver and sophomore midfielder Cassie Wirth.

"We're a young team, and it's going to be exciting," said Kresky. "I hope I can be around for a while to see what our team does for years to come."