DECC Athletic Hall of Fame: Sertich’s change of heart led to UMD’s run to national prominence

Sertich, who had resigned his post as Gus Hendrickson’s assistant in February, was there to turn down the head coaching position. That’s what he said he told his wife, Audie, when he left his home that morning for UMD, and that’s what he told Diana Klosowski — athletic director Ralph Romano’s executive secretary — when he arrived on campus.

“She asked me what I was going to do. I told her that I was not going to take the job,” Sertich said, recalling the day. “She pulled me in the office and said, ‘Why not?’ I said I didn’t feel very comfortable doing it. … We talked about it, and I didn’t have a job. She said something about the fact that it was time for me to try to be a coach.

“My wife was shocked I took the job. That was that. I think she was a little bit overwhelmed, too.”

Initially just a one-year appointment, Sertich would go on to coach the Bulldogs to three WCHA regular-season titles, two league postseason championships, four NCAA tournament berths, two Frozen Fours and an appearance in the NCAA championship game in 1984 during his 18 seasons as head coach.

The Virginia native, who also played four years at UMD from 1965-69, is the winningest coach in the school’s men’s hockey history (350-328-44). He’s been named WCHA Coach of the Year four times, was the 1984 Spencer Penrose Award winner as Division I coach of the year and was inducted into the UMD Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005.

On Wednesday, Sertich will be bestowed another honor when he and five others are inducted into the DECC Athletic Hall of Fame.

“I was actually quite surprised myself. It was a little overwhelming. It was kind of unexpected,” Sertich said of the honor. He was the keynote speaker at the 2015 event. “I think when you start a career in sports, you never think you’re going to get anything like that. It’s a blessing.”

Sertich, speaking from his home in Eveleth, said that giving back to hockey was impressed upon him early.

But on the morning of May 25, 1982, Sertich was not looking to…

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