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Catching up with Cassie

Former Liggett girls hockey coach reflects on her time with the program

By: Mark Vest | Grosse Pointe Times | Published December 13, 2016

 Former Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett girls hockey coach Cassie Jaeckle, upper left, celebrates with her team after winning a Division 1 state championship in 2014. Jaeckle, who stepped away from the program earlier this year, recently reflected on her tenure with the program.

Former Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett girls hockey coach Cassie Jaeckle, upper left, celebrates with her team after winning a Division 1 state championship in 2014. Jaeckle, who stepped away from the program earlier this year, recently reflected on her tenure with the program.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Former Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett girls hockey coach Cassie Jaeckle said that when the school came looking for her, “They knew what they wanted accomplished.”

Jaeckle stepped down from the program earlier this year after leading it for five years. Prior to her time with the Knights, she made a name for herself at the travel level, leading a team to two state titles and a bronze medal at a national tournament.

Liggett’s decision to target Jaeckle turned out to be a good one, as in her third season on the job, she helped guide the program to its first Division 1 state championship in 2013-14.

The following season, the Knights made it back to the state championship game, where they lost to Grosse Pointe South.

Jaeckle reflected on what her ambitions were at Liggett.

“I took that position to develop the program,” said Jaeckle, who left Liggett so that she could watch two of her children play college hockey. “The original goal was be competitive and a team that people feared to play. That became the reality of that program.”

Michelle Hicks, who is the school’s athletic director, affirmed that Jaeckle accomplished the expectations Liggett had for her.

“I think she rebuilt the program in terms of our numbers, in terms of success, in terms of respect,” Hicks said. “One of the things I respected about Cassie as a coach is that she opened her arms to any girl who wanted to skate, whether she was a kid who’s been skating three years and was an experienced hockey player, or to the kids who wanted to learn a new sport. She understood it was those kids who were brand new to skating and to hockey that were the future of the program.”

During her reign as coach, Jaeckle said Liggett was 92-37-7.

Not bad for a program that wasn’t necessarily on everybody’s radar when she arrived.

“We were underdogs,” Jaeckle said. “Lot of predictions we would be last when I first got there. And then I think the last two years, Liggett was getting picked to win. … That was a complete flip, which was obviously a great accomplishment, as well as a respect thing that they earned.”

Aside from learning how to be strong young women during their time at Liggett, there is something else Jaeckle wanted her players to get out of being a part of the Knights’ program.

“The hockey part is obviously why they’re there, but I also hoped the players got my message instilled — ‘Work hard for what you want; be classy,’” said Jaeckle, who credited the players, their families, her staff members, and Hicks for their roles in Liggett’s success. “‘In the good days and the bad days, you don’t change your demeanor.’”

Among the players Jaeckle impacted is Ania Dow, who was a captain on Liggett’s state championship team her senior season.

“I love Cassie,” Dow said. “She’s a big part of the reason why I’m still playing hockey today. I go to Michigan, and I play here. I wouldn’t have done that had I not had Cassie as my coach. She was great.”

Jaeckle discussed what gives her the most satisfaction from her time at Liggett.

“Winning is excellent,” said Jaeckle, who referred to current coach Anna Kuehnlein as a great role model for young ladies. “I’ve met some great people and great families. I’m still in contact with a lot of players, either through social media or following them through their college careers. … I’ve met some wonderful young ladies. I can’t wait to see what they do in this world.”