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Published September 13 2010

Herter excited to begin new job with Fargo Force

Name the experience and Jason Herter has lived it. He’s been the hockey hero at one of the most dominant college programs of all time.

He was the small-town kid that was the hopes and dreams of an NHL franchise.

He’s also had to play around the world when the NHL appeared to be out of reach.

Finally, he’s had to seriously consider a life where hockey was just a hobby instead of a passion.

“He’s seen everything from the top of the mountain to the bottom of the valley,” said North Dakota associate coach Cary Eades, who coached Herter at UND. “He’s also seen everything in between.”

Those are the experiences that a young hockey player can benefit from.

That’s why people like Eades say the Fargo Force made the right decision when it hired Herter to be the team’s new head coach.

Eades and Dean Blais were assistants at UND when Herter began his college career there in 1988.

“When we recruited him, we knew he was talented,” Blais said. “But we knew he had the kind of talent there that let you know he was going to be a good coach. He was smart, analytical and a tireless worker.”

The traits Blais saw in a 17-year-old Herter are still with him today.

Herter was an assistant under Blais in the Force’s first season.

When Blais left to coach at Nebraska-Omaha, Herter was not retained by the team.

It was at that point where Herter used the traits that left Blais and others impressed.

“You can sit there, cry about it and watch your mortgage not get paid,” Herter said. “Or you can get off your butt and get something going.”

Herter, who has a master’s degree in entrepreneurship, got a job working a local financial firm.

He still found ways to be involved in hockey. He helped coached his son’s hockey team.

He scouted for other teams.

Teams were impressed. They offered Herter coaching jobs.

But the Force job, even before the opening came up, was the job he wanted.

“When you don’t have a wife or a girlfriend you move around for an extra $5,000,” he said. “When you have a wife, a daughter in high school and a son with buddies across the street, you know it’s not fair to uproot them.”

UND coach Dave Hakstol, who played in college with Herter, said flexibility is key in coaching.

He said Herter continued to be active in the hockey community until the right job came along.

That included staying connected with people across the country and even helping with recruiting.

“Jason is a straight-up honest guy, I think that is one of the top qualities you look for,” Hakstol said. “He is going to work hard with his players. They are going to work hard but at the same time develop a relationship with him.”

Herter met with the team Sunday and began establishing that relationship.

Respect was the focus of those talks.

Herter said he wants his players to understand that respect is important.

“This was an opportunity that was the right fit,” Herter said. “This is a fun job, a rewarding job because of the impact you can have on young athletes.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Ryan S. Clark at (701) 241-5548