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Proctor school district partners with St. Luke’s for new hockey arena

The Proctor school district finally has a name for its new $10 million hockey arena.

In front of the new facility, a curtain was pulled back Tuesday to reveal it: St. Luke's Proctor Sports & Event Center.

"This is a venture that St. Luke's is extremely proud to be involved with," said John Strange, the president and CEO of the St. Luke's health care system.

The partnership comes with a $300,000 gift from St. Luke's to be paid over 10 years, along with the use of three athletic trainers who will work at the school and oversee varsity sporting events.

"We were looking for a partner that could bring sports medicine at a bigger scale and bigger scope, so St. Luke's had everything we were looking for," said John Engelking, the district's superintendent. "Strength and fitness, athletic trainers and the ability to do physical therapy all wrapped into a program that has a lot of prestige and a lot of notoriety."

Along with the Proctor Rails boys hockey team, the new 44,000 square-foot arena will host the combined Proctor/Hermantown Mirage girls hockey team and the Proctor Amateur Hockey Association.

Providing the trainers means "a big commitment from St. Luke's in terms of manpower, but it's all for the betterment of the kids," said Aaron Bresnahan, a clinic manager with the orthopedics and sports medicine division at St. Luke's. "It's very rare that any local high schools have this kind of presence with the athletic trainers. Typically one is provided. In this case, we're providing three."

Bresnahan said generally high schools are able to provide one athletic trainer, covering the sport with the highest impact. For fall and winter sports, that typically means football and hockey. But with the merger, sports with less contact, like basketball and volleyball, will also have athletic trainers available.

The arena was funded through a successful $12 million bond referendum in February 2017. It will house an ice rink with seating for 1,200 people and standing room for 500 more, as well as a walking track and training room.

While providing a strength and conditioning coach is top of mind for the program, the trainers also come with rehab and nutritional experience.

"It's going to be a whole cooperation between the two (St. Luke's and the high school) that will probably be the first around in the area specifically for our athletes," said Dan Stauber, the boys varsity hockey head coach. "I know other schools have programs, but not like the ones we're going to develop at St. Luke's.

"It's going to enhance our kids' opportunities to be the best they can be."