Kelli Quick: Why are you interested in being the women’s hockey head coach? Where and how did your interest for hockey start? Did you used to play yourself?
Coach Kleiber: Becoming the women’s hockey coach here at Lawrence was a very intriguing position to me because of the professional goals I have for myself. I have always wanted to become a coach since I was young and was lucky enough to get into the college level of coaching a year after graduating from my college playing days at Niagara University. I was the graduate assistant for the Robert Morris University women’s hockey team and worked primarily as the director of hockey operations, video coach and equipment manager, so I got a lot of the administrative background experience that many people do not realize goes into coaching at this level. I believe there is a lot of untapped potential for college hockey in the Wisconsin market even with the eight other university programs in the state that offer women’s hockey. I felt that this was the best path for me to further my knowledge as a hockey coach and the opportunity to create a program from the ground up was too great to pass up.
KQ: How does it feel to be the first women’s hockey head coach? How do you want to mold this program? What are your goals for the next few years and how do you plan on making it grow? In other words, what’s your game plan?
CK: It’s a great feeling to have for leading this program from the start. I give a lot of thanks to our Director of Athletics, Christyn Abaray, for believing in me and having the confidence that I will get this program off the ground. There are a handful of accomplishable goals that I have for this group, including going for double-digit wins in their first year, which some may say seems a little farfetched, but we as a team are going to do our best to get it done. I would love to be competing for a conference championship within the first five years of our program’s history. It’s good to have big goals set out for yourself and the program you’re in charge of leading. It’s going to be an exciting time next year when we’re finally on the ice together as a group and playing in our first game!
KQ: Where did you grow up and have you always been into sports, such as hockey?
CK: I’m from Edina, Minn. Edina is known as a hockey community, but I only had one cousin that played hockey before I started. My parents didn’t play and my sister didn’t pick it up until after I had been playing for a couple of years. I was fortunate enough to grow up playing in one of the best youth associations in the state but actually started with the boys because there weren’t any girls’ teams. Today, the Edina Hockey Association is home of the largest girls’ association in all of Minnesota. I also played just about every other sport available when I was younger: soccer, softball, basketball, flag football, swimming and golf. Playing all of those sports growing up allowed me to become a very good athlete when it came to playing hockey because of the different skills I learned from those sports that translated me into getting to play D1 hockey for Niagara University. I love watching hockey specifically the Minnesota Wild and the U.S. Women’s National Hockey Team when they have televised games, but I really love watching tennis and the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team. I’m a big fan of Serena Williams and all that she and her sister Venus have done for tennis and women’s sports.
KQ: Do you have a particular quote that you live by and would like to implement into your future players?
CK: The quote I think I use a lot when it comes to coaching has to be, “Practice like you play, play like you practice.” If you give 100% every day in practice, you’ll be able to give 100% in the games. If you go through the motions or only give 80% of yourself during that day’s practice, thinking you’re going to be at 100% when it comes to game time, that is not going to happen, plain and simple.
KQ: What are you most looking forward to about this new job?
CK: I think the most exciting part of this job is the fact that when I speak with recruits, telling them that they’ll be the first to wear our jersey in our program’s and school’s history is a pretty cool thing to get to do. I know that it’s an exciting opportunity for me as a coach, but it’s a very cool opportunity for the student athletes because they get to be part of building the team’s culture and setting the standard for the future of Lawrence women’s hockey.
KQ: My time at Lawrence has given me the opportunity to try activities that I would have never thought I could or would get a chance to do. Now that you are stepping into this environment, becoming a Lawrentian, you’ll also have this opportunity. How will you forge your own Lawrence Difference?
CK: I’m excited to get thoroughly involved with the Lawrence family and community as well as the Appleton community. This year already has been pretty busy with recruiting in this inaugural class, but once I’m able to get that group finalized, I’ll have more time to get Lawrence women’s hockey into the community with our volunteering efforts and involvement with the Appleton Youth Hockey teams. I’ve also been looking into joining an adult league for myself so that I can get back onto the ice and play the game I’ve loved since I first stepped out on the ice.