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Former Willmar volleyball star named new head coach at RCW

Dan Loe didn't expect to be the head volleyball coach at Renville County West when he was hired nine years ago. But before he stepped down, he wanted to make sure the program had some stability.

"When I was hired as coach, I was the fourth head coach in four years," Loe explained. "I didn't think that was fair to the girls so I didn't want to resign until I knew there was someone in place that would be a capable replacement and someone I felt would be here for a while."

Loe felt comfortable resigning after this past season with Danielle (Dahl) Mikkelson, his assistant the past two seasons, being named head coach.

"She will do a very good job," said Loe. "If I didn't feel she was right for the job, I probably wouldn't have resigned. She gets along well with the girls and she is a good coach with good ideas. Hopefully, she learned some things from me. I know I learned some things from her."

Mikkelson is a 2003 graduate of Willmar High School and was named All-Area and all-Central Lakes Conference three times as a hitter. She was also All-State honorable mention as a junior and All-State as a senior. She finished her prep career with school records of 1,153 kills, 325 ace blocks and 669 digs (since broken).

Mikkelson then went on to play three years of volleyball at North Dakota State, which went Division I in 2004, before transferring to Concordia College her senior year. She was named all-MIAC, All-Region and honorable mention All-American while at Concordia when she blasted down 297 kills and amassed a .337 kill percentage.

She currently teaches business and computer classes in grades 7-12 at RCW and has been the B-squad volleyball coach the past two seasons.

Mikkelson feels working with Loe will make her a better coach.

"Dan has great experience, passion and a love for the game of volleyball that has a trickling effect on his staff and players," said Mikkelson. "Working with him the past two years has given me the encouragement and honor to be part of such a presitgious and established program. He makes anyone love the game of volleyball and strive to be the best that they can be."

Mikkelson jumped at the chance to replace Loe as coach.

"I feel my passion for the game, experience and dedication to the volleyball program, including parents, community and players, will help me become a better coach," she explained. "I'm definitely excited to coach. Coaching has always been a passion of mine."

RCW will graduate eight players from last season's 15-15 team.

"We will have depth on the team (next season), which is always an advantage to our program," Mikkelson said. "Dedication and commitment will also be seen with the team we have coming in. We will need our leaders to be confident and strong as they will set the tone for our season to come."

As for Loe, the president of the Farmers and Merchants Bank of Sacred Heart, he would like to give back to the sport.

"I an thinking about getting into refereeing next season," he mentioned.