While Dick “Emmy” Emahiser’s most recent address was listed as Crosslake, Minnesota, his home will always be Eden Prairie.
Still, if you said his real home was a hockey rink, you wouldn’t be wrong.
Emmy passed on Friday, February 19, when his big heart was attacked, mercilessly.
“I first met him when I was senior at Edina,” said Mike Terwilliger. “He was helping coach the JV team with Bob O’Connor.
O’Connor would go on to work for USA Hockey and serve as the assistant coach of the 1984 and 1988 Olympic teams.
Emahiser was USA Hockey’s first-ever Developmental Coach of the Year.
“I was never coached by him,” added Terwilliger, “but I coached with him.”
Terwilliger, varsity hockey coach at Bloomington Jefferson, is the New Hockey Programs Manager for Minnesota Hockey, Inc.
Terwilliger and Emmy coached side-by-side at Eden Prairie High School. They also worked youth programs together.
“For every hockey decision I faced, I consulted with Emmy,” said Terwilliger. “He was a huge inspiration, and he always had time. Sometimes he shared ideas; sometimes he just listened.”
In the late 1970s, Emmy jump started Eden Prairie’s hockey program.
“When Eden Prairie started high school hockey, it was outdoors at CMS,” said Terwilliger. “Dick plowed and flooded the rink. He even drove the bus.
“He totally did it all,” he added.
Singing in the rain
Nancy Pudas taught Phy-Ed and health classes with Emy (she spells it with one M, like his name) at Forest Hills and then at Eden Prairie High School.
“He was the Energizer Bunny,” she said. ”When I shared an idea, he’d respond by asking what he’d have to do.”
The two teachers also worked their master’s programs together.
“That’s where we designed Eden Prairie’s ropes course and climbing wall,” said Pudas. “We were one of the first suburban schools in the state to have programs like that.”
Outdoor education and outdoors excursions were big parts of Eden Prairie Phy-Ed curriculum.
Together, Emahiser and Pudas led more backpacking and canoe trips than you can shake a paddle at.
Ironically, the one Pudas remembers the most is the one Emy didn’t make, at least not at its start.
“We were camping in the Chequamegon National Forest in Wisconsin,” said Pudas. “Not only did I get lost, but I lost the keys to the van.
“I found some hunters and begged them to take me back to the campsite,” she added. “Remember, this was before cell phones. They took me into town and I called Emy. He drove up in a pouring rain. As he walked to the campsite, he was literally singing in the rain. He was just a happy go lucky guy.”
Note: the lost-keys incident happened years ago.
“Yes, he brought it up more than once,” laughed Pudas.
Eden Prairie varsity coach Lee Smith describes Emmy with one word, selfless.
“He loved EP and the kids of EP,” said Smith.
“He turned Eden Prairie into a hockey community,” he said, “and the entire community knew it.”
Smith calls Emmy his mentor.
“I learned a lot,” he said, “from winning and losing to making cuts.”
“I spent a lot of time in his basement in front of a printer,” he added. “We’d look at drills and situations and talk everything through.”
Smith’s biggest takeaways from his time spent with Emmy?
“He knew how hockey needed to be played,” he said. “He knew about sacrifice, commitment and dedication.”
But like all of Emmy’s friends, Smith wishes he had one more conversation, one more chance to chat.
“He had such a huge impact, not only players, but on coaches,” said Smith. “I’ve told him that before, but I’d want to tell him again.”