skip navigation


By Matt Kakbeeke, Hockey Director, 09/08/20, 1:30PM EDT


KALAMAZOO, MI: The Kalamazoo Optimist Hockey Association (KOHA) has named Paul Waltke as Head Coach for the JV program for the 2020-21 hockey season. Waltke enters his tenth season as a KWings travel coach, but his first as a head coach.

Waltke started his coaching journey during his sophomore year of high school as a student coach with JD Kalleward’s KWings team, and continued through his graduation from Portage Northern High School. “After high school I was offered a full time assistant coach position for the Kwings PeeWee A, under JD Kalleward and Bart Kruzich, where I really began to learn about a lot of the ins and outs of coaching young athletes. I was absolutely hooked,” said Waltke. “As the JV KWings head coach I want the kids to develop, grow, learn, and ultimately help these athletes find success in getting them where they want to go.”

Waltke started playing hockey at age five with KOHA. After going through KOHA’s program, he went on to play for JD Kalleward at PNHS for four years. “I’ve grown up at the rink my whole life starting with my dad being very invested with Wings stadium; I believe I attended my first Michigan KWings game at four or five months old. The passion of helping others and coaching comes from my father as he’s a fellow coach. He’s always made it clear to me that you always have time to give back to something bigger than yourself especially that has given you so much! And for me, that’s KOHA,” Waltke said.

After coaching that 2000 birth year group for three years with Kalleward, Waltke went on to coach under Matt Kruzich and Ryan Aris where he grew further as a coach. “I owe so much to JD Kalleward, Matt Kruzich, Ryan Aris, and Bart Kruzich from what they were able to teach me. How to relate, coach, be passionate, and show love. I will be forever thankful for the experiences with all of them.”

Join us in welcoming Paulie to our head coaching staff - and be sure to wish him well if you see him around the rink!