When Shari Vogt first pulled on the Minnesota State sweater at the turn of the century at All Seasons Arena in Mankato, the fresh-faced goaltender from Richmond, Minn. never figured these days would be possible.
She goes to work every day during hockey season at Mayo Clinic Health System Events Center in downtown Mankato and works with young players under a banner at that proclaims her as the only all-American in Mavericks' women's hockey history.
"I guess I never planned too far ahead, said Shari, who now answers to Coach Shari Dickerman, a Mavericks' assistant coach for the last 11 years. "I always thought hockey would stick with me because I loved the game. I didn't see myself still here 20 years after stepping foot on campus."
But she is a hockey survivor, working with her second head coach at Minnesota State and the second-longest tenured assistant coach in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, and she also has another label - hockey mom.
She is not the stereotypical hockey mom of the Sarah Palin model. No, she is a working mom, raising three kids as a career college coach for a team having its best season since 2014.
"It's balancing act," said Dickerman. "My older two are mites. The little guy is three and gets ice time. At times, our kitchen turns into a locker room with all that is going on."
Dickerman doesn't act like it's any big deal to have three kids under the age of 10 (Tucker, Gigi and Cruz) while working with the Mavs. Then there is recruiting travel, mentoring young student-athletes and teaching on-ice.
Like many of her male coaching counterparts who help raise a family, She gives a lot of credit to the balance of coaching and raising a family to her spouse. In Shari's case, it is Jon who helps run kids to school events and hockey games when the Mavs are playing.
"To have a job like this, you need a spouse that is all in," said Dickerman, "It would be very hard to do this job if you didn't have someone who sees the passion for what you do. It gets crazy at times, but the family comes to the home games. But when you have to jump on a plane and go recruit in Winnipeg, you need help. But it works. My mother-in-law helps out too and grandma kicks in. We all balance it out, but it would be hard if we didn't have the support that we do."
Dickerman also gives credit to her first boss, Eric Means, and her current colleagues – head coach John Harrington and associate head coach Jeff Giesen – who also have young hockey players that need to get to get to games while the Mavs are playing and practicing. She acknowledges recruiting and road trips cause Shari to miss some school events, but she thinks there are more pluses than minuses in her lifestyle.
"My kids benefit from being around hockey," she said. "We sneak them out and skate from time to time and I know I have been fortunate to work for people who have kids and understood what can happen. Eric had elementary school kids when he was here. John's grandkids are the same and Goose has kids. They can relate to raising young kids. They know what happens when kids get sick. Some coaches haven't walked that path and wouldn't have that mindset. All these guys are used to having kids in the office, running around and stealing candy."
Dickerman is raising young hockey players, but doesn't push them "I want them to enjoy the game," she says. "If they have enjoyable careers that would be great. I just want them to find something they love to do. Hockey was like that for me."
Her oldest son, Tucker, went on a recent recruiting trip with mom. A boisterous parent section near the concession stand provided a teaching moment for mom and son. "He saw a few parents yelling from the stands and we made a deal," said Dickerman. "I told him if he promised to play hard at both ends of the ice, you will never see me act like that."
Internationally, she was a member of the U.S. team that won a silver medal at the 2006 Four Nations Cup and was named to the preliminary U.S. roster for the 2007 IIHF Women's World Championship.
Looking back, she was doesn't talk about special games with the Mavs as much as she talks about players she met along the way.
"I remember beating Duluth when they had great teams and beating Minnesota at Ridder the year when they went on to win the national championship," said Dickerman, "But the thing that I remember the most are the teammates I had and the friendships I made."
And if she needs a reminder of her days as a player, all she needs to do is check out the all-American banner at the rink, a photo of young Shari Vogt wearing her goalie gear and a shell necklace. "I never was much for fashion," she said. "The players still give me a hard time about the necklace." Like many of her peers, Dickerman says the game has improved dramatically.
"The players are more skillful, up and down the lineup," said Dickerman. "Good teams aren't just about one line now. There is much more playmaking rather than someone going coast to coast. There is more athleticism."
Dickerman sees a vast improvement in goaltending too. "There is more parity in goaltending, not just one superstar," she says. "Now there is one real good goalie and two solid backups on teams. A lot of them play similar styles – more in control, square to the puck. They simplify things. They are much better. Now something might have to do with the skillfulness of players in front of you, but things are much different."
Dickerman rarely puts on the goalie gear these days. "The last time was the WCHA Alumni game a few years ago," she said, referring the annual game that occurs on the eve of the Final Faceoff in March. "I forgot how much work it was. I was going to play again last year and then I found out Ann-Renee (Desbiens, a former Kazmaier winner at Wisconsin) was coming back. I said I just can't. We couldn't have one team with a national team goalie and the other with me."
As women's college hockey grows, there are more women who choose to stay in the game and be career coaches. There are 13 women's coaches among the 21 coaches in the women's WCHA. Dickerman is not the only WCHA women's coach raising kids. Nadine Muzerall, the head coach at Ohio State, is a mom. So is Jinelle Siergiej, the St. Cloud State assistant coach who has two sons, and Jackie Crum, the Wisconsin assistant, is expecting her second child this spring.
These women are proving their time management skills are as adept as designing a power play. They are showing today's college players that coaching is a very possible career when playing days are done.
"Some women don't want to do it. I get it," said Dickerman. "They want to be off trying other things than being in a rink and being cold. Coaching is a bit of a sacrifice, but I find it rewarding.
"There is nothing else I want to do. I still like the teaching piece, watching film one-on-one with players, help them learn that way. I see young athletes and help them to learn and grow."