(Editor's note: University of Providence press release)
GREAT FALLS— Jeff Heimel, head coach of the University of Providence hockey team, announced his formal resignation Monday, effective June 30.
"After a lot of thought and prayer, I've decided to step away from coaching for the time being," Heimel said. "It's the right decision for me and my family. I want to thank Dave Gantt and Doug Hashley for a willingness to believe that a hockey program could be successful here. They've given the program a lot of support over the years. I'm looking forward to staying a part of the Great Falls community."
"I also want to thank Brittany Budeski and Twila Croft," Heimel said. "I want to thank all my assistant coaches that I've worked with over the years. I also want to thank the strength and conditioning staff that we worked with and our athletic training staff. There were a ton of people that contributed to our success and we couldn't have done what have done without them."
Heimel, who has been the head coach since the team's inception in the 2018-19 season, amassed a record of 54-37-3 as the head coach of the Argos. Heimel led the Argos to three ACHA Division II National Championship appearances and a Mountain West Collegiate Hockey League Championship title during his four-year tenure.
"It's been a really special time," Heimel said. "From the beginning it was always a great fit. This community is a really special community. To play a part in growing hockey in Great Falls was a special experience."
"We would like to thank Jeff for all he has done for Argo hockey and Argo athletics," athletic director Doug Hashley said. "He found success in our program in a short period of time and made the University of Providence a household name in the hockey realm. We wish him all the best moving forward in whatever comes his way."
Heimel believes that none of the success the program had over the past four years would have been possible without the support of his family and his faith.
"My wife Megan has been unbelievably supportive to me over the years," Heimel said. "There's no words to describe her support - I'm so thankful for her. My kids have been my biggest fans. I'm going to miss those moments when the game would end and I would come out and would just get tackled by my kids. That's something that will always be special to me. I also have a very strong faith in God. Ultimately he's responsible for my success and failure and I'm grateful for all that he has given me."
Heimel joined the University of Providence hockey program after spending the past six years as the head coach of the Great Falls Americans. Prior to the Americans, he spent a year coaching the Cheyenne Stampede and Phoenix Polar Bear. Over the eight years he coached in the junior hockey ranks, he recorded a lifetime record of 255-119-25.
Heimel used the relationships he had made with players in the junior hockey ranks as he began to recruit for the Argos. Several players who have played for the Argos during Heimel's tenure also played under him with the Americans. The relationships he developed with the players will be the most lasting part of his tenure, he said.
"We started something and we hoped it was going to go well," Heimel said. "Then we got this group of guys that made the experience that much better. It's been a pleasure coaching them. They earned so much of what we accomplished. To do what we did was special. It was a group effort. There's so much that goes into that that I'm proud of. It was a pleasure to be a part of it. There's so much there that they should be proud of. I am certainly thrilled to have been a part of that ride. It was a really special time for me."
The search for a new head coach will begin immediately.