More than just Taylor Williamson’s babysitter, Sami Reber served as a hockey inspiration on the frozen pond in their Edina neighborhood.
“She was the player I wanted to be like,” Williamson said.
Reber, in her fourth season as Edina’s bench boss, still commands respect from Williamson, who is in her first year as Wayzata’s co-head coach. Two meetings in the Lake Conference this season ended with 4-1 Edina victories both times. But the third one means the most – the Class 2A, Section 6 final taking place at 7 p.m. Friday at Parade Ice Garden.
Edina seeks a return to next week’s state tournament and a shot at a fourth-consecutive state title. Wayzata, which upset Blake in the semifinals, hopes to again play spoiler. The Trojans are playing in their first section final since 2016.
“We’ve tried changing the mindset in our program,” said Williamson, who shares coaching duties with her father Dean. “Wayzata is a community that cares about athletics and the families are invested, so why not have the same mentality as Edina and Blake and expect to win?”
Reber, who works for Dean Williamson as a broker at Frauenshuh Commercial Real Estate, can relate. As a player, her teams placed second at the 2010 and 2011 state tournament. Now the Hornets are a dynasty.
“You can’t ignore the talent we have, of course,” Reber said. “But as coaches, we’ve tried to get players to stay in the present during the season. And we also set our goals high and reach to achieve them.”
Both achieved as players. Reber graduated from Edina in 2011 as a Ms. Hockey Award semifinalist and Williamson punctuated her 2014-15 senior season with the Hornets as the award’s recipient. Both played in college, Reber at Harvard and Williamson for the Gophers – where her grandfather Murray and father Dean played.
Both returned to the local high school hockey scene and succeeded successful female coaches Laura Slominski (Edina) and Jessica Scott (Wayzata).
“The Edina girls get to see a strong, dedicated woman and that’s so important,” Williamson said. “And what I’ve realized this season is that my dad can’t reach girls like I can.”
Added Reber: “We want to grow the game as much as possible and having a female coaching a girls’ team adds a special bond. I couldn’t be more excited to have Taylor in coaching. It looks like she’s got the players bought-in and sometimes, that’s all it takes.”