MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s a bit of a love story from the state of hockey. On Friday night two life-long coaches will be inducted into the Minnesota girls high school coaches association hall of fame.
The special partnership of Bill and Barb Halbrehder paved the way for hundreds of students in the state.
WCCO found out how their now-grown players are coaching them through a hard fight ahead.
“When the opportunities weren’t there I just kind of found them anyway. Put your hair up under a hat and go play baseball,” Barb Halbrehder said.
The first thing you learn about the Halbrehders is their ability to overcome obstacles.
“I grew up in a town that didn’t have any hockey,” Bill Halbrehder said.
Talented athletes at young ages, Bill grew up in Superior, Wisconsin. He skated for the Bulldogs in Duluth before becoming a semi-pro hockey goalie and was sidelined from the game at the age of 23.
“My defenseman was right behind him and hooked him and he did a 180 and his skate hit my helmet and my faceguard and lacerated my left eye, and that’s how I lost my eye,” Bill said.
It’s when he began his coaching career and how he found his wife of 39 years from Oakdale.
“We just clicked for some reason. Kind of found the person that really got us, so to speak,” Barb said.
Together the Halbrehders coached high school girls soccer at North St. Paul. Bill also led the boy’s team.
He recorded an incredible 21 hockey seasons without a single loss at North St. Paul as its head coach. The Halbrehders went on to coach the women’s hockey program at Augsburg together.
“We met so many good kids, really good kids,” Bill said.
In a way, those kids are now coaching them. In July, Bill was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
“Now, we’re on a new journey,” Barb said.
They’ve been humbled by the support from the former players they’ve watched grow up. They’re now relying on the lessons sports have taught them, and their lifelong resolve.
“We lived a good life and we’re looking to extend it,” Bill said.
As it turns out, the Halbrehders nominated each other for the coaching hall of fame without the other one knowing.
So, it was a complete surprise that they were both being inducted.
Barb is set to speak and accept their awards at Friday’s ceremony at the National Sports Center in Blaine.