Two Marshall graduates and local assistant coaches will get their first cracks at leading a program during the 2013-14 school year, though one will have a new school district to call home as he begins his head coaching career.
Both Ben Haugen and Jared Buysse will make their debuts during the upcoming school year. Buysse, a 2007 Marshall High School graduate, will take over for Brian Boomgaarden at the helm of the Russell-Tyler-Ruthton football program. Haugen, meanwhile, will say goodbye to the Marshall basketball program after three years as a varsity player and five more as an assistant with the Tigers.
The 2006 MHS grad is switching schools, as well as conferences, when he takes over the boys' basketball program at Tri-City United (located in Montgomery). Tri-City United, a new school formed by the merger of Montgomery-Lonsdale and LeCenter high schools in 2012, competes in the Minnesota River Conference and went 7-17 (3-13 Minn. River) in its first year of competition.
"The Minnesota River Conference is one of the most competitive conferences in the state," Haugen said. "It will be an exciting challenge to begin my head coaching career in that conference, but I am definitely looking forward to it."
Haugen saw a college basketball career cut short by a knee injury shortly after enrolling at Hamline University in St. Paul, where he was to join former Marshall coach Barry Wohler. Instead, Haugen returned to Marshall and soon began coaching with the Marshall Hoops program.
His first team, in the spring of 2007, was composed of what would wind up being the Class of 2013, who anchored Marshall's most successful basketball season in 40 years this past spring.
Since 2009, Haugen has served as an assistant with the Marshall High School boys' basketball program as both a "B" and "C-squad" coach. He worked under both Tom Critchley and Travis Carroll and credited both coaches, along with fellow assistant "Iron" Mike Christianson and Tigers' head football coach Terry Bahlmann especially, with helping mold his coaching style.
"Both coaches had different styles, so I just want to take the things that I liked and work them into my own style," Haugen said. "Coach Critchley was great with X's and O's, while Coach Carroll was really good at team building and being fair with everybody. It was something that I really liked.
"I also learned from the other assistant coaches that I worked with, like Mike Christianson," he added. "Outside of basketball, working with Terry Bahlmann not only helped me become a better football coach, but a basketball coach as well. Terry probably put the most time into mentoring me of any coach over the years."
With the start of basketball season over four months away, Haugen wasn't ready to discus specific goals for his first season with the Titans. He did, however, comment on his overall goal for his time with Tri-City United.
"I look forward to changing the culture and the expectations of the program, but for right now I'm just excited to get the season started and to begin my head coaching career," Haugen said.
Haugen took a teaching position at the Tri-City United middle school, beginning in August.
Buysse, on the other hand, has significantly less travel required for his new gig. After graduating from Concordia-Moorhead, where he played collegiate football, Buysse served as an assistant in 2012 under Brian Boomgaarden, who will be coaching with the Pipestone Area football program alongside notable RTR alumni Troy and Todd Bouman.
Like Haugen, Buysse will be taking control of a program situated within a vicious conference. But Buysse is looking forward to the challenge of returning the tradition-rich Knights back to the top of the Little Sioux Conference.
"We're in a tough conference, we always have the Dawson's, the Minneota's, the Canby's," Buysse said. "Basically from top to bottom our conference is one of the toughest for Class A in the state, so it will be a nice challenge, for the kids too, to restore where we can be as a program and kind of show the kids that hard work pays off. If we continue to get after it every day we'll see improvement and hopefully we can start making a name for ourselves."
That opportunity will present itself in Buysse's first game as the RTR head coach, as the Knights open the 2013 season with two-time defending Section 5A champion Dawson-Boyd in Tyler on August 29.
"It's very exciting, first head coaching job, first game, going against the big dog," Buysse said. "It's kind of nice seeing where you stand and seeing where you need to make improvements right away."
RTR finished 1-8 in 2012 (1-6 Little Sioux).