The Orono Boys High School Hockey team lost a member of its coaching staff two weeks ago when assistant coach Zach “Nelly” Nelson, 33, passed away unexpectedly on Thursday, March 22. In the days since his death, there has been an outpouring of support from the Orono community for the young coach who made a lasting impact on the team.
Nelson attended Anoka High School, where he excelled at sports. He was a member of the varsity hockey team, winning the Minnesota State High School hockey championship as a high-school senior. He played junior college football at Central Lakes College and division two football at Concordia University in St. Paul. Nelson devoted himself to playing and coaching softball in his post-college years. He joined the Spartans one year ago as an assistant boys’ hockey coach and was again part of a state championship team when the OHS hockey team became state champions in early March.