Limback, son Rhett working together behind Alpena bench
ALPENA — There aren’t too many things Rhett Limback loves more than Alpena Wildcat hockey.
So when he got the opportunity to join the Wildcats’ coaching staff this season, Limback jumped at the chance.
It’s been a great way for Limback — a 2016 Alpena graduate and former Alpena player — to stay in the game, but it’s been even more special for him because he’s gotten the chance to coach alongside his dad, Alpena head coach Chris Limback.
“This has truly been a Cinderella story. It’s been full circle. Growing up and being a little tyke going to Mich-e-ke-wis to watch hockey, and then playing hockey for Alpena, and now coaching, it’s been great, Rhett Limback said.
After two years of playing with Metro Jets of the U.S. Premier Hockey League, Rhett Limback was set on continuing his playing career last year at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. His first season with the Wolverines was cut short when he injured his hip in the first week of practice.
He was ready to go again this year after a couple of hip surgeries, but then the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chris Limback saw this as the perfect opportunity to keep Rhett around the program as a coach. Not only does Rhett offer a different perspective with his experience in junior hockey, he’s a younger coach that players can relate to.
“It’s one of those cool things as a dad and a coach. Anytime you’re associated with young people, you see things from a new perspective and take it in,” Chris Limback said. “(Hockey) history is so big in our town and how great it is, it’s good to have young guys around (who can teach that importance.) The kids look at Rhett and go ‘Yeah, that guy can play hockey.'”
Rhett never thought that he’d be coaching, at least not this soon, but it’s been a rewarding experience so far. Not only is he able to demonstrate techniques and concepts on the ice, he’s also learned about the importance of building a team up mentally, especially this season.
“At the end of the day, you hope to give the kids tools to be successful and to believe in themselves to be successful,” Rhett Limback said. “We’ve gone through just about every emotion this season and these kids have done far more for me than I’ve done for them.”
Of course, picking up a few tools of the trade from his dad hasn’t been a bad thing either.
“There’s not many things I love more than Wildcat hockey. Once the opportunity arose with my former team, which I love so much, it was a no-brainer,” Rhett Limback said. “To see him drawing up the plays and talking at the dinner table about plays and mixing up lines is great. Like anyone says who knows us, we’re very similar people. This is kind of what that looks like. It’s a give-and-take, and we see the game through different eyes.”