Larry Horstman, pictured with his son Jason, worked at Shattuck-St. Mary’s from 1996-2016.
Taking care of people and treating them like family was the calling card for which Larry Horstman was known. The longtime Shattuck-St. Mary’s director of hockey operations passed away on March 7, 2018 from complications of cancer. He was dedicated to his family and the students of Shattuck, and his reach went beyond the hockey rink. His passing leaves a void, but the hockey program of which he was an integral part of building, continues on in capable hands. He left a significant legacy, while impacting those in all walks of life in ways they will never forget.
Horstman was born in 1950 in Braham, Minn., and graduated high school from Minnehaha Academy. He met his wife Carol in 1966, and they were married five years later. Together, they had three children, Amy, Jeff and Jason.
In 1976, Horstman’s career took him to Windom, Minn., with the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Three years later, his family moved to Faribault, Minn., where Horstman ran the newspaper’s circulation department in southern Minnesota before eventually moving on to Shattuck.
Unlikely career change
Sports and activities were a big part of the Horstman children’s lives, and although Larry did not have a sporting background, it didn’t deter him from getting involved.
“Dad and mom were very involved in the community and every single activity we were involved with – Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, hockey, softball. They were always the coaches, always the leaders,” Amy said.
As Jeff was playing baseball, Larry learned the game and served as Jeff’s baseball coach. He also learned to skate as Jeff was entering his hockey career.
“I really wanted to go to school (at Shattuck),” Jeff said. “This is when Shattuck was on the rise in 1992. My dad was volunteering his time to help Craig Norwich with the hockey program, doing the travel and the ice scheduling. For Craig and J.P. (Parise), he was always the man behind the screen, the puppet master. He was making everything go. He didn’t have the big name, but he was the guy behind doing everything.
“My dad was going to be transferred to Willmar for the Star Tribune. If that would have happened, I wouldn’t have been able to go to Shattuck because we couldn’t afford to board there. Craig came to him and got him a job at the school, my tuition became free and we stayed in Faribault.”
From 1996-2016, Horstman’s job centered around managing all the logistics in the hockey program. For Shattuck-St. Mary’s, that means managing travel, lodging, food and USA Hockey registrations for all players. Horstman was also a conduit for parents.
“His office was the first one you saw when you went into the rink,” Jeff said. “It was Grand Central Station. Kids coming through there, the parents, the coaches, everyone just wanting to hang out in there. That’s what he enjoyed. He was also very good at details, all the bookkeeping stuff that makes the operation go. He was out there on the ice during practice and he was tapping guys on the shin pads and having a good time.”
Horstman also developed the successful summer hockey camps that his youngest son Jason now manages. According to Jason, he didn’t have much of a choice when it came to whether he would play hockey or not.
“I didn’t really have a choice from the beginning,” Jason said. “I watched my brother play, so I kind of followed in his footsteps. I was born 10 years after him and grew up watching him and being around Shattuck at a young age. I watched the games and all the players. My dad was the coach, so I started playing at a really young age.”
A presence of the school
Through the years, Horstman forged strong relationships at Shattuck-St. Mary’s. He understood the entire workings of the school and the hockey program.
Lonnie Schroeder, Director of Advancement from 2003-June of 2018, said that Horstman was more than just a hockey guy.
“He was a presence in the whole school,” Schroeder said. “He didn’t just stick to the sports complex. He was the go-to guy for information on the hockey program. He was incredibly accessible. He was helpful and knew a lot of people. He was the one that understood what the business office was and understood how the whole school worked. The kids that worked for him, loved working for him. He knew all the people that made the school work.”
“He could relate to the students, the kids, the coaches and the parents,” close friend and fellow Shattuck-St. Mary’s employee Jack Schweitzer said. “He was the kind of guy that if you needed anything, the parents would not necessarily go to the coaches right away, they would go to Larry. He was a real people person. He would go out of his way to make sure the kids were good. At boarding school, there is homesickness and you are all one big close-knit family. Like all families, you don’t always get along, but he would be able to get everybody on the same plan.”
Former Shattuck-St. Mary’s coach and current Buffalo Sabres assistant coach Tom Ward pointed to Horstman’s efforts for making his job and role a smooth transition.
“When I was first hired, he was very helpful in educating me as to how the school and hockey programs worked together,” Ward said. “Being a boarding school, we are unique in this area, it takes some getting used to.”
Camps and growth
Horstman built camps that run for weeks during the summer with 180-210 players per week attending. Four weeks are dedicated to boys and one to girls. Horstman surrounded himself with quality staff, and they were key to the success of the summer camps. It created a positive energy with players who were passionate about Shattuck-St. Mary’s and wanted to give back to the program, all while getting a workout in and making money. He was able to find the right fit for the job and was able to find the right personalities to manage the camps.
“We went through probably six or seven years with a constant group of 10 or 15 players that went to work every summer,” Jason said. “They were guys I had grown up with in high school, junior hockey and college. We would all come back to work together. He also treated us the right way. He paid us well. It’s hard to find a job where you can be on the ice coaching kids, and getting a workout and skate, and it’s for a month. He always welcomed you back and we try to do that now.
“His mark on the staff was huge, because of his organization, understanding and knowledge of how to run a good camp – the tiny details the average person might not see. He made it work and put a lot of time into it, too. He made it fun and the staff appreciated it. He treated people the right way.”
Players’ coach/father figure/best friend
Horstman was known as a players’ coach. One that did not get upset.
“He was always positive, rarely got super upset or yelled,” Jason said. “He didn’t really have to. It might have been because we did it the right way or didn’t want to get in trouble. He was a good family person. That carried over to his hockey, just making it a family thing.”
“Larry Horstman was my ‘second’ dad,” former Shattuck and Minnesota Gophers forward Nick Anthony said. “Jeff was/is my best friend. Larry coached our youth teams for Faribault, and eventually he was the reason for my opportunity to go to Shattuck. Larry was a character and could always lighten up the mood by cracking a joke or telling some kind of funny story. He cared about every player that attended Shattuck, whether you were a stud or dud.”
Horstman’s impact was felt beyond the rink and to the opportunities afforded players by his organized work ethic.
“We were able to travel from Alaska to Boston, and Calgary to Toronto,” Anthony said. “Larry helped give us worldly experiences by organizing great teams to play against while experiencing life at the same time. Shattuck was different. We were able to play 80 games a season as compared to the high school league which only allowed 20-something. We flew and bussed around the nation and were able to experience a lot of neat places as a 14-18 year old. We were forced to grow up because mommy and daddy weren’t always there, but that is where Larry stepped in. You could always go talk to him about any issue you might have. He was a great person and was probably hundreds of other people’s second dad, too.
“He was one of my best friends,” Schweitzer said. “Larry was the kind of guy that liked to stir the pot all the time and he would just kind of get somebody going on something and he would sit back and just kind of giggle and watch what happened. If I ever needed anything, he would take the shirt off his back. Even just now I miss him so bad. He was the life of the party and could talk to anybody. It would be tough to find anybody that had anything negative to say about Larry.”
Larry and Carol had been married 46 years and together built a loving family of three children. Larry had not been without a few health issues along the way and they were all something he overcame. To many who knew Carol, her devotion to Larry and her family ran deep. Larry ended up driving the bus for the Shattuck-St. Mary’s teams and fell on the oil pit, striking his head in late 2017. He overcame that, but began to have issues with his throat and was diagnosed with brain cancer.
Upon hearing the news, Carol died of a massive heart attack while speaking with the doctor. The news was too much for her to bear and she literally died of a broken heart, shocking those around the Horstman family.
Schweitzer recalled the day it happened. “It was brutal. It hit him so hard, they were so close.”
A few short months later, Schweitzer would have to deal with losing his good friend. “I miss him and there should have been more like him.” Schweitzer said.
“Mom and dad always taught us that is is never 50/50, it is always 100/100,” Amy said. “Everyone always give 100 percent all the time. Quite honestly, over the last nine months, not all of us have been able to give 100 percent all off the time. When one of us could only give 80 percent, the other would pick up the other 20 percent. That’s just how it’s been. It’s a really great story. We found out the same day mom died that dad had brain cancer. Dad really helped us get through that. He said, ‘No regrets. I have no regrets. We had the best life together.’ He missed her so much and we all did. You were sad for a while, but you weren’t sad very long because with those memories came a lot of smiles.”
Ward lost a great friend and good man with whom he was a part of building a winning team on and of the ice. “Larry was a good friend and the program never would have got to the point it is today without his tireless efforts. He was a good man, he will be missed.”
Jason took over for Larry after his retirement and has slid right into the job.
“Jason is Larry,” Schweitzer said. “I think Larry taught Jason everything that Jason knows, but he didn’t teach him everything that Larry knew. A lot of that stuff Jason would just have to find out by himself. When I first started working for him, Larry was in his early 40s. He had already had a pretty successful career with the Minneapolis Star Tribune and he knew so many people in the hockey community from his kids and then he coached a lot with J.P. Parise. J.P. was one of the all-time great people that you would ever want to meet. I don’t know if J.P taught Larry a lot about coaching, but I kind of wonder if Larry didn’t teach J.P. a lot about being a good guy, about life. I could be wrong about that, but they just fit together so well.”
Jason picked up the key components to Larry’s success and is applying them today.
“The minor details, being organized and on top of things and being punctual are important,” Jason said.
Not lost on Jason is the importance of having time for people like his father did.
“Adam Nightingale, who works with the Red Wings now, used to coach here, said no matter what time of day you came in his office, Larry always gave you the time,” Jason said. “It didn’t matter how busy he was, he would sit back and have a five-minute conversation. It was just an open-door policy. Anytime someone comes in to have a conversation, to sit down, it’s fine. I don’t work with my door shut. It’s learning to work with people that’s important.”
For Jason, the school and rink are daily reminders of what his father built and the type of person he was. “I miss his being around every day. Being around the rink and seeing everybody else that comes through to see him and didn’t know what happened and seeing their reaction. I feel like everybody that he knew through Shattuck are dealing with the same thing that we are as a family.”
“He turned his passion into a career,” Amy said.“ Every step of the way, he had the support of my mom. It was a great life for them, they loved it, and I think the Shattuck program would not be where it is today if it were not for my dad. He never really looked as talent as raw talent. It was the person that made the team and all of these personalities. This passion for his family and kids drew him to this sport. Then it went full circle where he was an advocate for the sport and the guy who didn’t maybe have all the skill but had the character to be a good teammate or a a good friend. He coached for many years with J.P. Parise and they had many great teams and great kids. They are adults and you look back at this impressionable time in their life and Larry Horstman had a big part in their life of who they are. For me, as his daughter, it is amazing to look back at how many people he touched in life, with my mom right by his side.”
Larry and Carol Horstman.