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Ward Helakoski named Hancock Girls Varsity basketball head coach

Marquette WLUC logo Marquette WLUC 11/9/2020 Tyler Markle
a man smiling for the camera: Ward Helakoski, Hancock girls basketball head coach. © Provided by Marquette WLUC Ward Helakoski, Hancock girls basketball head coach.

HANCOCK, Mich. (WLUC) - White Pine, Michigan native Ward Helakoski has been named the new head coach for the Hancock girls varsity basketball team. This according to Hancock Central High School Athletic Director Chris Salani.

Helakoski has been a head coach for nearly four decades in the high school and junior college levels.

“It is a rare occasion to be able to bring in a coach with the experience and success that Ward has had over the past 40 years,” Salani said. “His records and accolades speak for themselves and we are extremely excited to welcome him to the Bulldog Basketball family.”

From 2013-19, Helakoski was the head coach for the Mattawan High School boys basketball team, leading the team to an undefeated regular season and district title in his last season. From 1992-2000, Helakoski was the head coach for the Forest Park boys team in Crystal Falls, winning Class D Coach of the Year honors in 1996.

In addition to coaching, Helakoski has been a lifelong educator, serving as a guidance counselor and math teacher at different institutions since 1980. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Northern Michigan University.

Although, teaching is now a thing of the past, Helakoski retired in 2019, taking the year off from basketball as well. He will now focus on coaching full time.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever been this excited to start a new coaching chapter of my life,” said Helakoski. “I missed the game a tremendous amount last season and can’t wait to get back on the court. The Copper Country has always been near and dear to my family and I’m extremely thankful and proud to be a part of this Hancock Basketball program.”

Back in high school, Helakoski was a multi-sport athlete, earning varsity letters in basketball, football, track and baseball. He will be joined in the Copper Country by Leslie, his wife of 38 years, with whom he has three children.

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