Steamboat Wranglers head coach moves to director of youth hockey, assistant coach takes reins
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Steamboat Wranglers will have a familiar face as new head coach.
Head coach Ryan Dingle takes the reins as director of the Steamboat Youth Hockey Association, passing the Wranglers torch to assistant coach, Kenny Simmons.
“Since I got back, I’ve been working with the youth association along with the Wranglers,” Dingle said. “I had an opportunity to take over the director role. I have a young family, and travel takes a huge toll with that side of the Wranglers.”
Dingle’s passion for youth hockey stems from his time as a Steamboat Brave. Brian Ripley, current youth hockey director, will assist with the transition throughout the season.
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Dingle will still play an integral role for the Wranglers as head scout and leader of player development. Some travel comes with the territory of being head scout, but as head of player development, Dingle will assist with practices focusing on individual players and how they can improve their skills.
Dingle’s confidence in Simmons as head coach of the Wranglers stems from his season working with him and the fact that Simmons more recently played junior hockey at 25 years old.
Simmons followed a group of friends from Michigan to Steamboat Springs five years ago to enjoy a winter of snowboarding and has been here ever since. He first learned about the Wranglers while playing hockey in the men’s recreational league with the owners.
When the position for assistant coach opened this year, Simmons met with Dingle.
“I think together it made the season easy, and he’ll still be around to help out,” Simmons said. “We’ll still be able to talk and make things a little easier with the transition and bring myself up to speed.”
Simmons is from Traverse City, Michigan, where he started playing hockey at 4 years old. He played junior hockey with the Flint Jr. Generals and Traverse City Hounds in the North American 3 Hockey League and Midwest Junior Hockey Leagues.
As assistant coach, Simmons didn’t expect to take over the head coaching position after one season, but he is confident about building on Dingle’s foundation while adding his own insight.
The Wranglers will hold tryouts June 8 and 9 at The Edge Ice Arena in Littleton, and Simmons hopes to get anywhere from 40 to 80 hockey players to look at on the ice. Recruiting will be his biggest challenge entering as a new voice in the league and reaching out to players across the country.
“It’s fun to have a lot of kids and be able to put multiple teams together and see kids play with different lines,” Simmons said. “We’re trying to put together a good amount of drills to get a good look at the boys skating and their skills. Then get into some games and some scrimmaging and put them to the test. I want to see who is working hard and playing physical.”
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