MCAC Fall Season Coach-of-the-Year Awards Presented by Gopher

MCAC Fall Season Coach-of-the-Year Awards Presented by Gopher

Rochester, Mn-

As fall sports across the Minnesota College Athletic Conference draw to a close, Gopher Sport, the Minnesota-based industry leader in Physical Education, sports and fitness equipment, would like to recognize those professionals which were voted Coach-of-the-Year in their respective sports by their peers. 

The 2017 MCAC Fall Season Gopher Sport Coaches-of-the-Year in Volleyball, Football, Men's and Women's Soccer: 

MCAC Volleyball

Northern Division


  Jane Peterson

Central Lakes College 

The Central Lakes College women's volleyball team continued their dominance of the MCAC Northern Division with a perfect 14-0 regular season mark and a two-match sweep of the NJCAA Region XIIIB tournament field.  The Raiders advanced to the NJCAA National Championships, where they finished in third place and a overall record. 

Coach Peterson concluded season number 27 in November and ranks as one of the winningest active coaches in the NJCAA among all three Divisions. At the national level, Peterson has garnered National Coach of the Year honors in 2000, 2001, and 2007. 



 MCAC Volleyball

Southern Division

Marie Johnson

Minnesota West CTC  


Heidi Smith  



The Coach-of-the-Year balloting was reflective of the competitive nature of the Southern Division in 2017, with a pair of sideline leaders tying for Co-Coach of the Year recognition. 

Minnesota West CTC put together one of their best seasons ever under fifth year coach Marie Johnson.  The Lady Jays finished the season with a 9-6 Divisional record, requiring a playoff with M State to determine the fourth team to enter the NJCAA Regional.  MnWest came up short on the day in that challenge, but Johnson's team overall mark of 11-6 caught the attention of her peers. 

St. Cloud Technical & Community College head coach Heidi Smith led the Cyclones through the tough Southern Division schedule to emerge as both regular season and NJCAA Region XIIIA champions.  SCTCC has been building toward the championship season under Smith, posting improved records each campaign under the seventh-year mentor.  In the end, 2017 was the year of the Cyclones, and earned Coach Smith the season honors.

MCAC Football 

Eastern Division



 Tom Inforzato

Mesabi Range College


The Eastern Division of MCAC football saw Tom Inforzato and the Norsemen of Mesabi Range College outlast the field in a battle to represent the Division at the MCAC State Championship Football Game in 2017.  Inforzato's squad qualified for the playoffs in part with a 4-1 Division record, and then won not one but two road playoff contests to reach the title game. 

Previously the head coach at Itasca Community College, Inforzato set a high bar for his subsequent years at Mesabi Range with a trip to the Red Grange Bowl this December and in being recognized by his peers as the Eastern Division Coach-of-the-Year. 

MCAC Football 

Western Division



Jim Cox 

Northland CTC 

Northland CTC earned a reputation as an offensive juggernaught in 2017, with the NJCAA's leading quarterback in total yards and touchdowns leading the way.  Behind the Pioneer offense was second-year head coach Jim Cox, who took his NCTC squad to the MCAC State Championship game where they turned aside Mesabi Range College, 68-35.  Cox and the Pioneers will continue their season by participating in the opening game of the Graphic Edge Bowl, where the 9-2 Northland squad will face off against 3-8 Ellsworth Community College.   

Coach Cox also earned the Region XIII Coach of the Year honors as awarded by the NJCAA. 


Men's Soccer  



Jeff Lightfoot 

Lake Superior College 

Lake Superior College is relatively new to the NJCAA athletics scene, but IceHawk coach Jeff Lightfoot has collected his second Coach-of-the-Year honor over the past two years. 

Lake Superior played their way through the Minnesota College Athletic Conference men's soccer schedule with an unblemished regular season league record and finished 2017 at 7-3-2 overall.  Anoka-Ramsey ended LSC's NJCAA playoff hopes in the District final, upsetting the Duluth-based squad in the third meeting of the two teams of 2017. 


Women's Soccer 


Brady Eickhorn-Hicks 


     Community College

The women's soccer team at Anoka-Ramsey Community College began the season among the NJCAA Top 10 and finished the season just a bit short of a return to the National Championships in 2017.

ARCC head coach Brady Eickhorn-Hicks led the Golden Ram squad to an unbeaten and untied MCAC regular season mark and a 9-3 overall ledger.  The Golden Rams scored a convincing victory over Rochester CTC in the Region tournament, but dropped a hard-fought 2-1 OT decision to Madison College on October 28th in the District finals to end their season.  In 2016, Eickhorn-Hicks led Anoka to the NJCAA National Tournament, where they placed sixth.  


The Minnesota College Athletic Conference would like to congratulate the aforementioned Coaches-of-the-Year and thank Gopher Sport for their sponsorship of this important recognition.  In February, look for the Gopher Sport Winter Sport Coaches-of-the-Year in Men's Basketball, Women's Basketball and Wrestling. 

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This release sponsored in part by Gopher Sport. 

Gopher Sport, based in Owatonna, is an industry leader in Physical Education, sports and fitness equipment.  Gopher Sport is dedicated to providing programs and departments with the products to improve fitness, develop skills, create fun and reach a high standard of learning and living. Gopher Sport has diligently served teachers, coaches and athletic directors around the world for over 65 years. 

About the Minnesota College Athletic Conference

The Minnesota College Athletic Conference is the organizational body for NJCAA-affiliated two-year technical and community college athletic programs in the Minnesota State system.  The mission of the Minnesota College Athletic Conference is to advance intercollegiate athletics by providing an engaging and supportive environment for success of our student athletes and competition among member institutions.  The MCAC is committed to the guiding principles of encouraging the development and success of student athletes, promoting the integrity, honesty and loyalty to member schools as well as upholding the sustainability of conference athletic programs.

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