Steps Down As Head Basketball Coach
Following a thorough search for the right candidate, Northwest College head men’s basketball coach Brian Erickson has been chosen as the college’s new athletic director.
“I’m very excited for this new opportunity,” Erickson said. “I moved here initially to get into athletic administration, and I didn’t know if that was going to be five, 10, 15 years down the line. I couldn’t see a better time or a better place to do it, is what it came down to.”
NWC President Stefani Hicswa said she’s excited to work with Erickson in his new role, and is confident the success he achieved as a coach will translate into success on the administrative side of things.
“His [Erickson’s] experience on campus really made a difference,” she said of the hiring process. “One of the things we’re doing is including fundraising as part of the job responsibilities. ... Brian has been really instrumental in recent fundraising efforts, so he brings good fundraising experience to the position.”
Erickson also knows how the athletic program operates, according to Hicswa, and his familiarity with the coaches and the college set him apart from other candidates.
“This is too high a level of position to not do a national search,” she said. “So when you have an internal candidate that emerges from a national search, you know that person has stood out amidst a national pool.”
Erickson came to Northwest nine years ago to complete his mentorship, becoming an assistant basketball coach under Andy Ward while mentoring under former vice president Dana Young. It was during his third year as an assistant under Ward, however, that the coaching bug really took hold.
“That third year, I really fell in love with coaching,” he said. “I enjoyed doing it before, but the type of guys we had that year just made it enjoyable. Then coach Ward left and I kind of took over, and I’ve loved every year that I’ve coached. It’s been amazing.”
Erickson guided the Trappers to 120 wins during his six years at the helm, including a Region IX Championship in 2014-2015, the team’s first in 46 years. But despite the passion he had, and still has, for coaching, Erickson said athletic administration is what he feels he was “built to do.”
“My mind works in that business and athletic side of it, and I couldn’t be more excited,” he said.
Budget cuts and decreasing enrollment are just a couple of challenges Erickson will face in his new position — challenges he is willing to accept.
“There are things that have affected us in certain ways, and we’ve had to make changes to those to figure out different ways to be successful,” he explained. “I’ve gone through all of those, and now I understand really what we need, and what direction these programs need to go. My understanding of the challenges we face is what excites me about the position, to see where we’re going to go.”
About coaching, Erickson said he’ll miss the personal relationships he’s made with his players.
“Those are relationships that go on forever,” he said. “I believe I can have a relationship with student athletes still as athletic director. It’s just not that day-to-day, where you see a kid fail on Monday, fail on Tuesday, fail on Wednesday and then Thursday, they start getting it, they start seeing that success. That’s probably the best thing about coaching, seeing those kids overcome those things.”
Erickson is taking over an athletic department that’s seen quite a bit of turnover in its coaching ranks. The volleyball, men’s soccer and men’s and women’s basketball programs will enter the 2018 seasons with interim coaches at the helm. While Erickson was disappointed to see his fellow coaches move on, he’s excited at the prospect of being part of the hiring process for a new set of coaches.
“I’ll get to be a part of bringing in people that we believe now fit this culture we’ve built the last few years, and be able to grow on it,” he said. “It was sad to lose the coaches we had, but if we can look forward, I think we have an opportunity to build something, bring some new blood in and get people excited about Northwest Trapper athletics.”
Hicswa said NWC will hire an interim men’s basketball coach for the 2018-19 season, then begin a search for a permanent coach in the spring. A search is now underway for an interim coach, and several potential candidates have expressed an interest in the position.
“Spring is hunting season for schools looking for a basketball coach, so we’ll begin a search for a permanent replacement at the conclusion of the basketball season,” she said. “As for an interim, we’ll conduct a quick regional search; there are a lot of talented coaches out there.”