The Limperts share their love for community athletics.
For Woodbury couple Heidi and Rich Limpert, sports are more than just a hobby—they’re a lifestyle. As legacy athletes in the community from their younger years and well into adulthood, the couple continue to share their expertise and passion for sports in Woodbury and beyond. Together, the two have created dynamic platforms for emerging multisport athletes from an elementary level to high school and through college.
Though sports have provided both with outstanding careers as athletes and leading professionals, the two say the number one thing they want to accomplish is creating a space that kids want to come back to. And that starts with a bond. “When you play, it’s like a family,” Heidi says. “If you are playing a sport together, you already have something in common, and it just grows your network of friends.”
MN Athletic Club
With the Minnesota Athletic Club, formerly known as the Minnesota Lacrosse Club, Rich wanted to implement a program that would make lacrosse accessible to youth in the community. What started in an open field soon flourished into a booming program that provided opportunities for athletes from East Ridge High School (ERHS), Park High School and Woodbury High School (WHS), as well as the communities of Hastings and Hudson, Wisconsin. However, after looking at his son’s, Drake (14), lacrosse roster, he realized all the other players also played hockey like him. The crossover of the two sports sparked the idea to merge the two and provide a more well-balanced schedule for more youth to get involved. This combination would allow for multisport athletes to fulfill their interests without fear of missing out on substantial training opportunities.
“Part of the reason why he started the MN Athletic Club was because they saw a lot of kids just choosing one sport for their whole life and then burning out by the time they were in the ninth grade,” Heidi says.
The organization promotes success on the field and ice by providing extensive training opportunities, enhancing skillset development and encouraging multi-interest in athletes.
As a former multisport athlete himself, Rich says it’s important to have a program that is flexible for both the parents and the athletes. Available for boys and girls from age 7 through high school, the practice and tournament schedules for the two sports (depending on the season) are universally the same despite the age. This approach makes it easy for parents with more than one kid in the same sports, he says.
“I want them to have fun with sports. That is the biggest thing,” Rich says. “My time is done playing it. I want them to have the most opportunity to have the best time that they can, and I wanted to help support the other kids they hang out with because it becomes one big family.”
Heidi’s Trailblazing Legacy
As a tri-sport athlete in high school, Heidi was a part of track and field, diving and gymnastics. Balancing her time as a multisport student athlete was tough, but she says, if anything, the cross training was an immense benefit.
“I felt like I was a much better athlete, stronger and faster. Being in other sports kept things fresh and exciting,” she says. “People that do the same thing over and over will get burned out. Being a multisport [athlete] prevents that. Your body can recover, and you don’t get bored.”
Though the sports all seem very different, she says she thoroughly enjoyed jumping and was able to incorporate that into all three. However, the sport that took her the furthest in her career was one that she naturally stumbled into. When she was in Girl Scouts, the organization had a track and field day. In a variety of events, Heidi says she won every single one she was a part of despite it being her first exposure to the sport. She says winning was fun, and she sought more ways to pursue that positive experience.
Fast forward to high school, she was a trailblazer in the sport and was a part of the crew that introduced pole vaulting into girls’ athletics. “I like being a pioneer for things,” she says. Excelling in pole vault, hurdles and running, she later went on to receive a full-ride scholarship for track and field at the University of Kansas.
After her high school and college career, she continued to stay involved with the community that exposed her to her passion and began coaching the girls track and field team at her alma mater. “The root of who I am is I like to help. I love helping people and helping them win,” she says. “It doesn’t mean winning the race or winning the game. It is winning in life.”
This message is something she lives by in all realms of her life. In addition to her work as a coach, Heidi is also the program leader for an Evangelical youth group called Young Life, an ambassador for One Ocean Diving (a program supporting shark conservation, research and education), a substitute teacher for the South Washington County District and, formerly, a firefighter.
“I am a ‘yes’ person,” she says. “I am really passionate about that fact that you get this one opportunity, this one life. Life goes really fast, and don’t miss out. If you have your heart desire to do something, then do it, and do not let anyone stop you.”
Rich’s Lifelong Endeavor
“I wanted to play everything,” Rich says about his passion for all things athletics. As a former football, hockey, baseball and lacrosse player, he says experiences as a multisport athlete aided his skillset both physically and mentally.
“Having a well-rounded background in sports translates and makes you stronger in areas that you don’t repeat in a certain sport,” he says. “You use different muscles and different stabilizers to make your body less prone to injury and provides you with a different view on how you might approach a sport.”
Rich says he had the luxury of learning from his older siblings. However, throughout his time as an athlete and now coach, he says he did not have much of a guide to go from and had to figure things out along the way. He takes what he knows from personal experience as a former high school and collegiate athlete at the University of St. Thomas and the University of Minnesota, Mankato, and merges it with his insight from the sidelines as a coach.
Rich finished his first year as head coach for ERHS girls’ lacrosse team in 2022, where his and Heidi’s two daughters, Annika (17) and Kiera (15), play on the team. However, this is not his first rodeo. Formerly the assistant coach, he also was the head coach of the Minnesota Golden Gophers mens’ lacrosse team for seven seasons and the boys’ lacrosse team at WHS for 10 seasons. With over 20 years in experience coaching lacrosse, Rich doesn’t see himself stopping anytime soon.
His recent endeavor includes merging him and his wife’s skillsets for the benefit of his athletes. Inviting Heidi to practice with the lacrosse team at ERHS, she works with the girls to enhance their agility and endurance on the field. Using her track expertise, she provides insight on running technique to improve their movement on the field.
“It is playing off of both of our strengths,” Rich says. “For me, it is the strategy, and an enormous part of lacrosse is running and technique, so I think it is a seamless transition, and she does a really good job with large numbers of athletes, being patient and communicating difficult techniques … it is fun seeing her out there teaching what she knows best, which is how to run.”
Working to accelerate athletes’ learning abilities, he says his favorite part of coaching is showing them that they are capable of more than they may think. “I think my passion has been how to relay information faster to the kids: get it to them quicker, what we are doing, why and how we are doing it?” he says. “My favorite thing is seeing when the kids’ lightbulb goes off.”