New Rogers boys hockey coach David Brown looks to build winning culture
by Jake Andersen
Four days into a new head coaching gig at Rogers High School, David Brown admits it’s felt much longer than that.
“It’s been a crazy first four days. It’s honestly felt like it’s been a month already,” he said.
Named the new Rogers boys head hockey coach on April 8, Brown is already busy laying the foundation of what he believes can be a special hockey program — one he hopes to bring to new heights, as his mentor Pat O’Leary has done as the head coach at Wayzata.
Brown replaces Todd Weisjahn as head coach, who stepped down after last season due to personal reasons, and is thrilled to put a fresh stamp on a growing program that’s endured through back-to-back losing seasons, while bringing a championship pedigree to the table after four seasons as an assistant coach under O’Leary at Wayzata — a program that won its first state championship during Brown’s first year as an assistant in 2016.
“It’s an unbelievable opportunity,” Brown said about becoming the Rogers boys hockey coach in an interview with the Star News. “The Rogers program is a growing community, a growing youth association and the program seems like it is hungry for success in the game of hockey, so to be able to lead that program is a dream of mine and I look forward to trying to take them to new destinations.”
In addition to four years as an assistant at Wayzata, Brown, a native of Champlin Park, takes over at Rogers after spending the past three seasons as the head coach of the Champlin Park Bantam AA team, saying both coaching experiences prepared him well to lead a high school program of his own.
Brown noted O’Leary has particularly been instrumental to his growth as a coach, giving him the opportunity to take on a variety of tasks at Wayzata and experience what it takes to build a championship-caliber program.
“Coach O’Leary, before I got (to Wayzata), he was building up the ‘Wayzata way.’ He was building a community that was prideful of their hockey program and it’s a program that kids are dying to play for now,” Brown said. “And to be able to coach that team to the state championship, we obviously had a special group of young men in that locker room, and to be around those kids and those families and that coaching staff, it’s taught me more than I could have ever imagined about the game of hockey and the program.
“And, in having that success, going through the ups and downs, and being on the ice with the youth, running summer programs, working with the mites, squirts, peewees and bantams and all the way up to the high school level is a pretty big opportunity in Wayzata. And Pat has allowed me to help him with that, and now it’s my turn to do the same with a new program.”
Brown stressed the importance of building a program from top to bottom and that’s what he plans on doing at Rogers, saying he will dedicate himself full-time to coaching hockey and have a hand in the development of the mite, squirt, peewee and bantam programs.
Brown’s desire to be involved in all phases of Rogers hockey is just one of the things that convinced Rogers Athletic Director Dan Ohlgren that he was the right man for the job.
“We feel like we got the best fit for the position and had a good pool of candidates to choose from,” Ohlgren said.
As Brown prepares for his first season as head coach, he said he looks forward to the challenge of leading the team in their first year in a tough Northwest Suburban Conference, adding that he believes they have a lot of potential over the next few years.
Most importantly, as O’Leary did at Wayzata, Brown hopes to establish a strong, new school culture and style of play early on, and raise the expectations of the entire program, knowing he wants to accomplish big things down the road.
“I think the program is dying to reach its ultimate goals … and the biggest thing I’m going to do is raise expectations. …The kids are going to appreciate that, look forward to that, and when they step on the ice, they are going to hold themselves to a high standard and that’s going to be the goal for the program,” Brown said. “Rogers is growing and hopefully, in building a culture and program top to bottom, we’ll be left with a quality high school team that the community can be proud of and come support, and hopefully when it’s all said and done, the wins and losses will take of itself.”