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OUR VIEW: Ability, not gender, is key in coaching

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opinion Mitchell,South Dakota 57301
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OUR VIEW: Ability, not gender, is key in coaching
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

A woman will be a head coach of the sophomore boys’ basketball team at Mitchell High School this season, leaving us to ask just one question:

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What took so long?

Saturday, The Daily Republic reported that Erin Olson has asked for a transfer of her

extracurricular duties, from assistant girls’ varsity basketball coach to head sophomore boys’

basketball coach. The school board finalized the move at its meeting Monday night, and Olson will now join the MHS boys’ program.

Olson has all of the credentials needed for the job. She was a star player for MHS from 1991 to 1994, playing point guard for four years during Mitchell’s most successful girls’ basketball era.

She helped the Kernels to four state title games and two state championships before playing collegiately at the University of Wyoming and then the University of Minnesota.

She played professionally and coached in the collegiate ranks and also has worked at various high-level basketball camps. She is a teacher in Mitchell.

Her game-winning, last-second basket in the semifinals of the 1994 state championship is to this day one of Mitchell High’s all-time sports highlights.

To us, she’s a natural to coach any basketball team, and we commend the school board for approving an idea that just a generation ago would have been considered outlandish.

Mitchell has had women coaching boys at times in the past. Tennis and golf coaches often are of opposite gender of the players they supervise, although never — at least that we know of — has a woman coached boys in a locker-room sport.

MHS has had several men coach girls’ basketball, including longtime coach Gary Munsen and, most recently, current coach Wes Morgan.

Considering her strong résumé, Olson should be the trailblazer and we’re glad it’s her.

Congratulations to Erin Olson for her unique new job, and also to the athletics department and the school board for recognizing a good, young coach when they see one.

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