Edina Girls Hockey Coach Back After Breaking Neck

Updated: 02/24/2014 5:41 PM
Created: 02/21/2014 8:12 PM
By: Ellen McNamara

Every season is different for every team, and for every team that competes to get to the state tournament, they have a unique story to tell.

Even though the Edina Hornets fell one game short of the state tournament, the team still considers their season a success.

In the Edina High School hockey rink, green banners tell the story of a schools success.

Girls practicing on the ice are hungry to add to the collection, and so is their coach, who right now is Dean Williamson. "I've known most of these kids since they were babies," Williamson said.

Kids like Laura Baker, who's now a senior, are focused and more motivated than ever. "It was kind of a perfect situation amidst a terrible circumstance," Baker said.

That terrible circumstance happened just four weeks before tryouts this hockey season.

"Instantly, I knew that it probably wasn't good," Head Coach, Laura Slominski, said.

Sept. 29, 2013 was a scary day for Edina's Head Coach, Laura Slominski, who everyone calls Slomo.

The former star for Burnsville, and University of Minnesota captain, took a hit while she was playing.

"When someone tells you that you broke your neck, you go into that panic mode of what does that mean," Slominski said.

Thankful she could still walk, Slominski needed surgery, and needed to come up with a plan for her team. Hockey dad, Williamson, who has a rich hockey history himself, stepped in.

"I knew them all, I coached them all through youth hockey, so it was an easy transition," Williamson said.

After surgery went well, Slominski focused on her health, and her team kept thinking about adding to their banners.

"We didn't want her accident and our problem to interfere with how we were going to do this season," Baker said.

As her team pushed through adversity, Slominski did too. A leave of absence is something she does not do.

Instead of coming back in May, Slominski attended almost every game, and has been at practice providing more individual coaching.

"The fact that she's here today, behind the bench, part of the process is incredible," Williamson said.

Coaches often say when you are faced with adversity, how you handle it, makes you who you are.

"I see it as motivation for me to push forward and do it for Slomo," Baker said. "It's kind of using her accident and all that she's taught me, to accomplish something for her."

For Slominski, and her entire team, they've handled her accident just fine and are stronger, tougher, and closer because of it.

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