Alexandria area hockey coach suffers life-altering injury at work; community rallies
Todd Lucht spent nine days in regions in St. Paul and underwent two surgeries in that time.
ALEXANDRIA — For the last three years, Todd Lucht, 43, of Almora has volunteered as the assistant coach and team manager for his son's hockey team — the Bantam Greys of the Alexandria Area Hockey Association.
On Monday, Jan. 9, his life changed forever. While working as an assembler at FAST Global Solutions in Glenwood, he suffered a workplace accident and now a prosthetic is in his future. He lost his right hand up to his mid forearm. He spent nine days in regions in St. Paul and underwent two surgeries during that time.
"It's unfortunate. It's a day-by-day thing," said Lucht. "From the get-go, I told myself, 'This is what it's going to be. You have to make the choice...' You can either sulk and have the 'poor mees' or you just take it as a challenge in life."
"He's taken a very positive road," added Todd's wife, Heidi Lucht. "Even the nursing staff has come back and thanked him for his positive attitude."
Todd added that while the coping process has been a bit of a struggle, he is thankful for the outreach from friends, family and the hockey community. He's received "piles" of cards from not just players on his team and other local teams but also teams from all across the state.
While Lucht never played hockey himself, he has always enjoyed the sport and coaching has allowed him to play another role in his son's life. Even though he jokes that he is far from coordinated on the ice.
"My goal every time I hit the ice with the kids is not to fall," Lucht said with a chuckle. "I'm kind of shocked I get asked to help coach."
He says ever since his son, Austin, first started playing nine years ago, he has always been that parent that helped out in any way he could.
"I think (the coaches) just knew I was someone that would be willing to help," he said.
His role on the team is less on the technique of the game and more on providing guidance through life.
"Being that I don't offer the on-ice type knowledge, I hope I can pass on some life lesson stuff for the kids," he said.
His favorite part of coaching is seeing how the players get better both on and off the ice and being a supportive role model.
Now the hockey community is returning the favor by offering their support to Lucht and his family.
"The team has rallied behind him. They brought over groceries while we were in the cities," Heidi said. Todd added that hockey parents have driven up to their home outside of Almora to make sure their son, Austin, made it to practice.
Todd and Heidi have two children, Avery and Austin, but are also hosting a German exchange student. All attend school in Parkers Prairie. Todd was curious if the community is as supportive in Germany as it is here. Their exchange student said it is for the most part, but she was surprised about the amount of support from the school.
Austin had a hockey tournament while his parents were at the hospital. With them not there, a majority of his eighth-grade class at Parker Prairie made the trek to the Runestone Community Center to make sure he had others to cheer his name.
Lucht said after reaching out to thank one of the card givers, who was from another team, their response was, "Everyone is here for each other."
"Stuff like that just is overwhelming," said Todd. "I don't think it really sinks in until something unfortunate happens and you get that support."
Lucht recognizes that hockey can be expensive and time-consuming but the investment of the community that those involved get to be a part of makes it all worth it.
Not long after his accident, a friend of the family set up a gofundme page and it has already nearly reached its goal.
"I could sit and think of putting the perfect words together but at the end of the day, it's just a big thank you... Obviously to the hockey community but also the community in general," said Lucht. "It's overwhelming and it's probably going to be this way for a while. I'm trying not to choke up now but I mean, you hear the stories but you never know or you can never feel it till you're through it."
"I want to get to doing everything in general, not just with the kids, but in life, like to be able to do just about everything I used to do," said Lucht. "I'm sure there's going to be some limitations on that... I don't want to have a burden of people having to say, 'Let's go do something. But wait, we got to see what Todd's capable of.'"
Lucht added that his biggest challenge will be learning how to ask for help. The recovery will be slow and many more future trips down to the cities are likely.
But Lucht is positive about the future. He hopes to get back to working and enjoying his hobbies like four-wheeling, fishing and hunting and all the things he did with his family.
He says his children have helped to keep his spirits high. His son has been tough and quiet about it, while his daughter, Avery, provides the humor by already joking that he can portray Captain Hook for Halloween.