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Sled hockey inspired Sertich

After 18 seasons coaching Minnesota Duluth, Mike Sertich spent three seasons at Michigan Tech University in Houghton, Mich. He'd later coach bantam hockey in Hermantown and assist Mark Wick at St. Scholastica as well.

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After 18 seasons coaching Minnesota Duluth, Mike Sertich spent three seasons at Michigan Tech University in Houghton, Mich. He'd later coach bantam hockey in Hermantown and assist Mark Wick at St. Scholastica as well.

But of all the coaching gigs Sertich has held over the past 48 years - including his time as an assistant at Grand Rapids High School - none has been more "inspiring" or more "humbling" in his words than his recent endeavour, assisting with the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team.

"It's the most inspiring and most humbling experience I've ever had in the game," Sertich said. "I always used to think I had some issues, but when I see what those kids have to live with every day, my attitude has really changed about a lot of things. I'm very fortunate to be healthy."

Sertich, who had ankle surgery in 2011, has spent the last 5-6 years working with the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team at camps and competitions. The team was coached by Sertich's longtime friend, former Wisconsin and Colorado College coach Jeff Sauer, who died Feb. 2.

After Sauer's death, Sertich continued to work with the team this spring, helping at a camp in Charlotte, N.C., and traveling to Gangneung, South Korea, for the 2017 International Paralympic Committee Sled Hockey World Championship, where Team USA took silver.

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"It's been very, very rewarding to me," Sertich said. "A lot of them are vets. They've been blown up. Some of them were born disabled. You see them and their thirst for the game, the knowledge of what they want to do, it's so overwhelming. You never hear any complaining about 'We have to practice this' and do this and blah, blah, blah.

"They're like sponges. They soak up as much as you give them. That to me and to see how they handle their personal lives, it's amazing. It really is something. It's inspiring."

Related Topics: COLLEGE HOCKEY
Co-host of the Bulldog Insider Podcast and college hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune and The Rink Live covering the Minnesota Duluth men's and women's hockey programs.
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