Fans are already fantasy booking Mitchell High School’s next basketball coach.
A long wish list of candidates has been created on social media channels and local watering holes, but the search is not quite so simple. And many of the reasons are unrelated to basketball.
Like any high school coaching position, odds point toward the next coach being a teacher. Many coaching jobs are filled during the spring, and because former coach Todd Neuendorf’s last-second decision to resign came late, Mitchell and many other districts have finished the hiring process for the next school year.
Of course two positions came open when Todd and Jaime Neuendorf resigned, but any teacher-coach would have to be certified in those areas. Any non-teacher would also need the flexibility in a day job to take on coaching responsibilities and would likely already live in the Mitchell area.
So, while projecting the new coach is fun conversation, it will not look similar to college or professional hiring search.
“It’s not like hiring a basketball coach, where you find the best person that you can find and you select that person. There are more variables in a high school coach,” MHS activities director Cory Aadland said. “We need the right teaching position to be open and all those variables. That’s a challenge in the best of circumstances when you’re trying to hire any position. But the later time is a challenge.”
Mitchell has posted the position internally, but if no candidate is determined within five days, the job is posted publicly. An opportunity to coach the Kernels is coveted in South Dakota, but it may not draw the same amount of applicants as it would have in the spring. Fifteen people applied for the position in 2017.
A program coming off a 15-win season and a Class AA state tournament berth is certainly more appealing than a program coming off 15 wins in four years and a five-year state tournament drought like the one Neuendorf took over in 2017. It also helps to inherit one of the top players in the state in Caden Hinker, a Class AA first-team all-state selection in 2021.
But because many coaches looking to make a move have already done so and others have signed contracts to remain in place, it could prohibit an influx of applications at this point in the year.
“The foundation is there now, so those things don’t need to be fixed, we just need to continue the momentum,” Aadland said. “The biggest challenge is the timing for what we have as far as available teaching positions. I thought it was a good job when we hired (Neuendorf), because it’s still Mitchell basketball. But it’s a better job now than it was back then.”
Regardless of who is hired, Aadland hopes it occurs within the next three weeks. It would give the coach-to-be time to acclimate to the area or an in-town coach to immediately jump into summer workouts.
Mitchell already competes in a variety of local team camps each week, with a trip to the University of South Dakota team camp lined up for Friday and Saturday, another camp at Augustana University on July 23-24, while wrapping the summer slate with a camp at Dakota Wesleyan University on July 26.
For the time being, coaching duties have fallen on assistants Ryker Kreutzfeldt and Wes Morgan, according to Aadland.
“We’ll take the time that we need, but I would like to get someone in place as soon as we can,” Aadland said. “With the staff we have in place, we’ve got guys here that can maintain it and hold course for whatever time we need to. We’ll take as much time as we need, but we’d certainly like to move on it in a fairly quick manner.”