As the starting center for the Crosby-Ironton Rangers boys' basketball team from 1996-99, Reid Kuschel enjoyed slapping the Aitkin Gobblers with losses.
Now the fourth-grade teacher and head girls' basketball coach at Aitkin may be helping the Gobblers inflict revenge.
Kuschel, who officially was announced as the coach at the Monday Aitkin School Board meeting, succeeds Jen Waldorf. She resigned May 27 after three years because of parental pressure. Kuschel said he doesn't know Waldorf, but has heard a little about her situation. The 24-year-old said he's more concerned about his first head coaching position than the past.
Reid Kuschel led the Crosby-Ironton Rangers boys' basketball team to three state tournaments. He hopes to bring that success to the Aitkin Gobblers as the head girls' basketball coach.
"I don't have any experience as a head coach, but I have a lot of basketball background," said Kuschel. "Basketball has been a part of my whole life. It was a dream of mine to coach ever since I decided to go into teaching. I'm extremely excited. Everything has happened so fast -- getting hired as a teacher and now a coach, too. I'm really looking forward to doing this."
Kuschel is the highest scoring boys' basketball player in Crosby-Ironton history with 1,555 points. A three-year starter, he helped the Rangers to three Class 2A state tournaments.
After high school, Kuschel played one year of basketball at Bemidji State University before transferring to Central Lakes College for a year and a half. There he played for coach Jim Russell.
"I've been talking to coach Russell and (Crosby-Ironton head girls' coach) Randy Swanhorst," said Kuschel. "They're helping me out with things. I also learned a lot of great things from (C-I boys' head coach) Dave Galovich and what he taught me was instrumental in my success in basketball. I'm learning as much as I can from those three people. I'm putting it all together -- things that I like and things I want to do with my program. There's a lot of learning to be done."
The 2005 St. Cloud State University graduate was hired as a fourth-grade teacher at Aitkin's Rippleside Elementary School June 21.
Becoming familiar with the curriculum is Kuschel's first priority. But he helped with the Aitkin girls' basketball camp this summer and has been busy acquainting himself with his future players.
Position: Fourth-grade teacher, head girls' basketball coach at Aitkin
College: Central Lakes, St. Cloud State University, graduated 2005
High school: Crosby-Ironton, graduated 1999
As for the first time Kuschel and his Gobbler girls face his alma mater: "It's going to be great," he said. "I can't wait for that. It's a big rivalry. Now I'm on the Aitkin side and I'm really looking forward to it.
"Swanhorst has been extremely helpful and he helped me a lot when I was playing. He was the assistant boys' varsity coach when I was there and he took a lot of time working with me to become a good basketball player and a good person. Now he's helping me become a coach."
Aitkin hosts the Rangers Dec. 20 and travels to Crosby Jan. 24.
JEREMY MILLSOP can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5856.
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