Gillette, Wyo.--Joe Kittell, who was the assistant coach for the Gillette College mens basketball team for three seasons, announced that he will become the head coach of Lake Region State College's (LRSC) mens basketball team and baseball team. The latter will be starting up in 2013. LRSC is a National Junior College Athletic Association institution in Devils Lake, N.D.
Kittell, a native of Minot, N.D., was asked by the athletic director of LRSC to interview through some mutual contacts for the position and for good reason. Before working under Head Coach Shawn Neary at Gillette College, Kittell worked at North Dakota State University while earning his bachelor's degree from 2002-2006. In 2006 he went to work at Mayville State University, a NAIA institution. In 2007-08, he was an assistant at North Dakota State College of Science, which is an NJCAA school.
Joe is also the current owner and director of Every Child's Important (ECI) Youth Services. ECI is a non-profit organization that runs summer traveling basketball teams in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota. He was already in the process of transitioning that over to someone else. He will still have plenty of contacts through the program, which will definitely help in terms of recruiting future players to LRSC.
That helped Kittell when it came to securing the gig. “ They really want a guy that's going to hit the ground running, recruiting North Dakota kids and that's something that's important to me, being from North Dakota,” Kittell stated.
For Joe, this was a dream opportunity. “I'm just one of those guys that's dreamed of being a head coach. Since I started in this business 11 years ago or 12 years ago now- I was a student manager it's just always been one of those dreams. Getting that opportunity and doing it back in the state of North Dakota is huge for me.”
Three years under Head Coach Shawn Neary, Kittell had the chance to hone his coaching skills.
He had a chance to learn from Neary, too.
When asked what one thing he will take away with him about Coach Neary, Joe said, “[He] is a tremendous human being and builds great relationships with his players and the community and members of Gillette College. Definitely, he is a guy that I will always lean on for advice and help.”
However, Kittell and Neary will now be friendly foes on the court. The Pronghorns have played LRSC in seasons before.
“I told Coach [Neary], I said lets play the first game of the year next year. No scouting reports, no nothing. Let's just roll the ball out there and go.”
When it comes to being successful as a coach, Kittell said its all about the people.
“I honestly think the number one thing is to have great people. To have great people be a part of your program. Great players that are going to be great teammates and they are going to be great role models and not settling for an average guy.”
Kittell says his biggest challenge of becoming head coach is the decision making. “All of the decisions kinda fall on your shoulders. When you're the head coach, the buck stops with you.”
Kittell will also be starting up the baseball program. So what does he know about baseball?
“Played it my whole life. Of all the sports that I played in high school, it was probably my most successful as a player. I coached youth baseball and Babe Ruth baseball.”
Joe was grateful for his time in Gillette. “I wanna say [thanks]. Gillette College, Coach Neary, Dr. [Mark] Englert, you know, everybody at the college for their support and everything they taught me- the City of Gillette for embracing me.”