By Jayson Hron, USA Hockey
Only once has a Faribault boys high school team qualified for state-tournament play, that coming during the Minnesota State High School League’s brief and ill-fated Tier II tournament experiment in 1993 (the Faribault girls also have one state tournament appearance to their credit, in 2010).
Conversely, the Faribault-based Shattuck-St. Mary’s prep school has been competing in – and often winning – USA Hockey youth national championships since the 1960s. In fact, eight SSM hockey alumni participated in the XXII Olympic Winter Games, including Sidney Crosby (Canada), Zach Parise (United States) and the Lamoureux Twins (United States).
But all of these players were imports, merely stopping by Faribault’s famous finishing school. Grassroots hockey in the community never reached the same level of success, a reality that chaffed some of the citizenry.
Enter Dean Weasler, a former St. Cloud State University goaltender raised about 40 miles north of Faribault.
After parlaying his college career into two seasons of professional hockey, Weasler returned to Minnesota in 2004 and joined the corporate ranks. His passion for hockey remained, so he also coached at the high school level and helped guide his sons’ youth teams in the Twin Cities suburbs. Then, in the summer of 2012, Weasler accepted a dual offer to coach the Faribault High School boys’ team and become director of hockey operations for the youth association. His mission became aiming grassroots Faribault hockey toward a higher trajectory. Part of that process involved installing USA Hockey American Development Model principles.