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Sevareid settling in as head basketball coach at Presentation College

ABERDEEN -- Matt Sevareid has seen it all when it comes to basketball, and from all angles.

From the court to the sidelines, NAIA to NCAA Division I, Sevareid has been through everything.

Now, after eight years of playing and seven years of being an assistant of sorts to the head coach, the Mitchell native is in charge of his own program, and has big plans.

Sevareid, a 1995 Mitchell High School graduate, begins his third year as head men's basketball coach at Presentation College in Aberdeen when the season begins this fall. The city of Aberdeen is a familiar one for him: Sevareid attended Northern State University and played basketball there from 1998 until he graduated in 2000, then was a graduate assistant for the men's basketball program from 2000-2002 while he got his master's degree.

Sevareid said the head coaching job at Presentation was appealing for several reasons.

"It was the opportunity to be a head coach; the opportunity to call timeouts," he said. "And it's closer to Mitchell. My folks still live in Mitchell. And I've got three girls that live in Cedar Rapids (Iowa)."

Until he got about halfway through his college career, Sevareid said coaching wasn't even something he'd really thought about. He knew he wanted to play basketball after high school, and he was able to do that under former head coach Bob Olson and current head coach Don Meyer at Northern, but that couldn't continue forever.

"I had no idea what I wanted to do," said Sevareid, who was a part of Mitchell's 1994 Class AA state championship boys' basketball team. "I kind of just headed off to college to play basketball. I started out at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, and once I got to Northern State I got to be about a junior or senior in college and realized I wasn't going to be around basketball much longer. That's when I got interested (in coaching)."

After college, Sevareid stuck around Northern for two years while getting his master's and helped out as a graduate assistant under Meyers. From there he traveled to Spokane, Wash., where he was an administrative assistant for two years at Gonzaga, an NCAA Division I school. While in Spokane, the Bulldogs earned their fifth straight NCAA tournament berth.

After two years in Washington, Sevareid headed back to the Midwest and landed in Jamestown, N.D., where he was the head men's assistant coach at the NAIA school. During his tenure, the Jimmies finished second in the Dakota Athletic Conference and were ranked as high as No. 19 in the nation.

After seven years as an assistant coach, he said the switch to being in charge was, at times, nerve wracking.

"It was a lot of anxious nights and a lot of anxiety," he said. "The coaches that I was able to play for and coach under made it real easy. Starting out under (MHS coach Gary Munsen) in Mitchell and then having the opportunity to play at Northern for Bob Olson and Don Meyer; all those practices and all the teaching and learning that was going on up at those schools was phenomenal.

"That first year was really tough. Anyone who's been a head coach and says that first year is easy, they're kidding themselves. The second year I was able to have a little bit more fun."

In his first season, the Saints went 7-18 overall and 5-9 in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference. His second season, Presentation improved to 10-16 overall and 6-8 in the conference, putting it in a tie for sixth place.

One of the toughest things about coaching at Presentation, according to Sevareid, is that it is the only NCAA Division III school in South Dakota and he is not able to offer recruits any sort of athletic scholarships.

"It's still a work in progress," he said. "We're the only DIII school in South Dakota, and that's tough because kids aren't real familiar with me calling them and talking to them. We don't offer scholarships, and that's tough.

"I do feel like we are moving in the right direction. We still have a long way to go. There were a few games I thought we should have won (last season), and hopefully if we can get a couple key parts, I like where we're at."

Despite not being able to offer scholarships, Sevareid said he is able to offer an opportunity to play basketball to some athletes who might not have had offers from other, bigger schools.

"(Presentation) is an opportunity for kids that aren't getting recruited by (Dakota Wesleyan), by Sioux Falls colleges, by Dakota State," he said. "I'm able to call them and give them an opportunity to play."

Despite the lack of scholarships, Sevareid said he is confident in his recruiting, mostly because of where he learned how it's all done.

"The great thing about it is I've been at all levels," he said. "NAIA, (NCAA) DII, DI. I saw how the big timers did it, and I was here at Aberdeen with two of the best coaches in the country. They molded my philosophies and the way I wanted to do it, starting with defense and recruiting.

"You've got to recruit great kids. Maybe kids that aren't the best athletes, the fastest or the strongest, but kids that have huge, huge hearts."

Sevareid, who is also the head men's golf coach and assistant softball coach at Presentation, said that he'd eventually like to move up in the coaching world, but for now, he's just fine with where he's at.

"As in any profession, you're always looking to advance," he said. "My job isn't even close to being done at Presentation; I've got a long ways to go before I think about moving on.

"Having the opportunity to have scholarships in your back pockets and offering kids a scholarship package, that's real appealing and would be exciting. We're doing those same things here, we're just doing it with a different type of kid. We've got a lot of work to do here before I start looking."