After 24 seasons, Wisconsin-Stout coach Watkins to retire, says ‘this is an opportune time’

Terry Watkins has been the only coach Wisconsin-Stout has had since the program attained NCAA status in 1996 (photo: UW-Stout Athletics).

Wisconsin-Stout head coach Terry Watkins, who has been behind the bench of the Blue Devils’ NCAA program for the past 24 seasons and the club team eight years before that, will officially retire at the conclusion of the academic school year.

“At some point in time you have to retire, and this is an opportune time,” said Watkins in a statement. “It’s time for someone to take over the head coaching position with the program.”

Watkins began his Stout journey as a player, became an assistant coach under Tom Slupe, then helped to resurrect the program in 1988 after the program was discontinued in 1982 to become the Stout club team coach for eight years until the program returned to varsity status in 1996.

He has been the varsity coach ever since and with the combined club and varsity programs has been the head coach for nearly 900 games. Watkins has the second-most wins on the WIAC all-time coaching list with 273.

“When you think of UW-Stout hockey, you think of Terry Watkins,” UW-Stout athletic director Duey Naatz said. “Terry has done so much for the program, from keeping the dream alive after the program was discontinued in the early 80s to forming the club team and seeing the program return to varsity status in the 90s. It will be very different to look across the ice and not see him on the bench.”

Watkins has mixed emotions about the impending retirement.

“I’m looking forward to it, and I’m not,” Watkins said. “It’s going to be tough not to get up in the morning and going to work at a full-time job that I really enjoy.”

Watkins ranks seventh on the all-time Blue Devil scoring list, tallying 95 points with 41 goals and 54 assists from 1969 to 1973. He ranks second in assists and 11th in goals scored. Watkins holds the single-season record for most goals scored by a defenseman with 22 during the 1972-73 season. Watkins is the only four-time team captain in program history and was the first hockey player inducted into the UW-Stout Athletic Hall of Fame, gaining induction in 1992.

A three-time WIAC coach of the year, Watkins also coached the Stout golf team for nine seasons.

Watkins and his wife, Doreen, who was an administrative assistant in the Stout physical education office, but has since retired, have three adult children, Jeff, Todd and Kelly (deceased), four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Todd played hockey under his father for four years and is the all-time leading club scorer with 90 goals and 115 assists for 205 points. Jeff was the Blue Devils’ hockey team’s official scorekeeper for nearly two decades and was the Blue Devils’ public address announcer. Jeff was also a member of the Blue Devil varsity golf team in the 1980s.

A national search will begin immediately, with a new coach expected to be named by early May. The position will officially begin August 1.