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Lake Superior State signs pair of coaches to 4-year extensions

Lake Superior State University women's basketball coach Brandon Lokken talks to his players during a timeout in a game played last season. Lokken and volleyball coach Dave Schmidlin have each signed four-year contract extensions, the university has announced in the past week. (Photo courtesy LSSU)

SAULT STE. MARIE — Lake Superior State has announced during the past week the re-signing of a pair of its head coaches to four-year contract extensions.

The Lakers announced the signing of women’s basketball coach Brandon Lokken late last week and volleyball coach Dave Schmidlin on Tuesday.

Both have completed one year in their positions, Lokken on an interim basis.

These two signings follow a trend of coaching stability at Lake State, as Hettinga and hockey coach Damon Whitten have also signed multiyear extensions in the past year under the direction of athletic director David Paitson.

Lokken was named the 12th head coach in Lakers’ history in June and began an immediate rebuilding process that the university said showed noticeable improvement in the program.

“This extension gives me the opportunity to continue working with our great group of athletes and coaches, which is something I am very excited for,” Lokken said. “Our first year with the program was focused on changing the culture. Every day the girls and the coaching staff were committed to growing and moving forward in the right direction. When I reflect on the first year there is a lot of positive to take away.”

His new system was implemented with a roster that featured 10 underclassmen, including freshman Taylor Bryant, formerly a standout at Newberry High School. The Lakers pulled off late-season GLIAC wins over Saginaw Valley State and Purdue Northwest.

“As a team, we improved dramatically from the beginning of the season to the end,” Lokken said. “Not only with our performance in the games but our work ethic and the way we competed in practice.”

Lokken earned his bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Lake State in 2011 after having served as a student manager under men’s basketball coach Steve Hettinga for four seasons.

He went to Indiana on the Goshen College basketball coaching staff for two seasons before rejoining LSSU in the 2014-15 season as a Hettinga assistant and JV coach.

Schmidlin was named the eighth volleyball coach in Lakers history in 2017, but fourth since 2012, and was also tasked with rebuilding that program.

“The 2018 and 2019 graduating classes have had four head coaches,” Schmidlin said. “It must have been extremely difficult for the players to feel that anyone really cared about the success of the program.

“Now, the players know there will be someone here for the long haul. This spring, we have seen a significant culture shift within the program. I believe this has been possible because I have tried to let them know that I was going to stick around, even before the subject of a contract extension was discussed.”

Before coming to LSSU, Schmidlin led the varsity boys volleyball team at Waukesha, Wisconsin, Catholic Memorial High School to a 2012 state tournament quarterfinal berth. From 2003-06, he was head coach at NCAA Division I Oakland in downstate Rochester.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.

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