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Rare combination

Husband-wife duo share HOF coaching careers

(Kerry Grippen photo) Dan and Carol St. Arnauld attended the Wisconsin Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame induction banquet on Aug. 7, where Carol was a 2021 inductee. Dan was a 2020 Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame inductee.

IRON MOUNTAIN — It’s rare that a high school coach has a Hall of Fame career, but when two coaches from the same school get inducted in their respective sports in the same calendar year, that’s very rare.

Very, very rarely are the two Hall of Fame coaches married to one another.

On Aug. 7, Niagara girls volleyball coach Carol St. Arnauld was elected to the Wisconsin Volleyball Coaches Hall of Fame. Her husband, Dan “Lefty” St. Arnauld, Niagara’s head football coach for 28 years, was inducted into the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame on June 5, after being a 2020 selection.

“Lefty” and the rest of the 2020 induction class, had their induction postponed in 2020 due to COVID-19.

The St. Arnaulds, who are both Niagara High School graduates — Dan in 1973 and Carol in 1975 — have had the good fortune of being able to coach in the community they grew up in.

“It helps that both her and I are Niagara people,” Dan said. “The community knows us and trusts us. People would certainly question my play-calling at times, but they seldom said anything to me directly. I had very minimal amount of problems over the years with parents or administration.”

Carol completed her 36th year of coaching high school volleyball this fall, with all but one of those years at Niagara. In her tenure at Niagara, her teams have won 11 conference championships, 15 regional championships and three sectional championships.

Her Lady Badgers won the WIAA Division 4 State Championship in 1991 and were runners-up in 1992 and 1993.

“I was loaded with talent those years, I really was,” Carol said, adding Crivitz was their toughest test within the Marinette & Oconto Conference.

“Because I have been around so long and involved with the program, everyone knows how I run the show, how I run my program,” she said. “I am thankful for all of the community support I have always had.”

During a joint interview, Dan noted Carol “is in her eighth year of her last year” of coaching.

“It’s definitely an honor for both of us, no doubt about it,” Carol said. “Being elected to a Hall of Fame, that doesn’t happen every day. But if you don’t have talent, you’re not going to win, no matter how good a coach is.

“Another fortunate thing for me is I’ve had multiple players over the years, where I have already coached their children or I am now. It doesn’t seem like I have been around that long, but I guess I have,” she added.

Both understand that having a dedicated and knowledgeable coaching staff is crucial to any successful program, especially at the high school level.

“It’s a matter of having good players and good kids. It’s also important for any coach, as it was for me, to have a steady coaching staff,” Dan said.

“You also have to have a staff that’s committed to the coach, but also the program,” Carol added. “A coach and their staff have to share the same philosophies — everyone has to be on the same page for sure.”

Beside having outstanding players throughout the years, Carol said the program’s success would not be possible without her assistants, including Anne Pucci, Jennifer (Curran) Houle, Nicole Anderson, Maryellen (Wagener) Allred, and Christie Borchardt.

In Carol’s career, she has posted a career record of 612 wins, 264 losses and 57 ties through 2020. Her 2021 team captured the M&O Conference title.

Niagara has always been one of the smallest teams in the M&O.

Over Dan’s years at the helm, the football teams were around .500 versus Coleman and Crivitz, which are larger schools. They had a positive winning percentage versus Lena, Suring and Wausaukee.

“What I am most proud of from over the years is how competitive we almost always were, despite being the smallest school in the M&O most of the time,” he said. “We won the M&O three times, but we finished second six times and third place at least six times, usually with Peshtigo and Coleman right there with or above us. We also won the Northern Lakes four times when we were in that conference.”

“Lefty,” who finished with a career record of 181-101, also credits his assistant coaches.

“Jim Hoogland, he was so good at fundamentals. He’d coach up a kid and turn a small, 145-pound guy into an all-conference guard. Randy Wodenka was with me for many years as well,” said Dan.

Carol noted that Pucci, who coached with her for 20 years, was a great assistant like Hoogland was for Dan, with fundamentals.

“Lucky breaks or unlucky breaks — injuries included — throughout the course of a season can really effect not only a particular game, but an entire season’s outcome,” added Dan. “Also, a good coach has to adjust to his/her personnel. Even if it means changing offensive schemes as a whole.”

Having qualified for the playoffs 11 times in his coaching career, Dan recalls a particular team — the 1983 Badgers squad — that was better in his opinion, than all of his playoff teams, but never made the postseason.

“I can remember that particular year we played Peshtigo for the conference championship game the last game of the season and we both were undefeated going into that game” he said. “We were a Division 6 team, which was the smallest at the time, and they were a Division 4 team.”

At that time, the WIAA only put conference champions in the playoffs.

“So when Peshtigo beat us, they went on to win the state championship and we never got a chance to play in the playoffs with only one loss. And that was unfortunate, because it was one of the best teams I ever had at Niagara,” he said.

When the St. Arnaulds were asked what has kept Niagara’s volleyball program so competitive for so long, Dan was ready with an answer.

“It comes down to culture, the volleyball program has a strong culture at Niagara that’s been built over the years,” he said.

Both Dan and Carol said they have been happy to coach multi-sport athletes.

“Athletes need to play all sports instead of the good athletes only playing specific sports. That’s what makes good athletes good, playing all seasons,” Dan said.

“The best teams I had, had good leadership, leadership from the players,” he added. “When your players take ownership in their team, it makes a coaches job so much easier.”

Carol agreed.

“That is a key ingredient, strong leadership from the girls, it really is,” she said.

Dan, who has coached varsity football a total of 43 years overall, said it’s remarkable how may Hall of Fame coaches there are locally.

“To name a few of them, Bob Giannunzio in Norway, Tom Wender from Iron Mountain, Chris Hofer from Kingsford, Rex Terwilliger, Joe Reddinger from ND. Then Bill Santilli from Crystal Falls (Forest Park), and even Ron Warner, who’s from Norway and lives in Norway again, now that he’s retired, he’s in multiple Hall of Fames from his time at Lake Linden-Hubbell,” Lefty stated.

“For me to be able to be mentioned with all of those guys, I am honored by that,” he said.

Former Niagara school official Kerry Grippen contributed to this story.

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