Courtesy of Cullen Maksimowski, LSSULakers.com
SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – Lake Superior State University has announced the signing of men's basketball coach Steve Hettinga to a four-year extension with the addition of an expanded role as the Assistant Director of Athletics.
"At Lake State, the mission of athletics is a combination of leadership development for the players, entertainment for the students, community service for the area and competition that demands the best effort. Steve Hettinga embodies all four qualities, said Lake Superior State President Dr. Peter Mitchell.
"He inspires leadership in his players; his teams and he are certainly entertaining, Steve and his players are very active in the community, and the basketball team is competitive every second of every game. LSSU and especially Laker basketball players are fortunate to have a coach of the caliber and commitment of Steve Hettinga. I'm thrilled to sign him to a four-year contract; it's a big win for everyone, except other GLIAC universities."
Hettinga, who is in his 11th season at the helm of the of the program, is the winningest coach in school history amassing a 162-135 record and has led the Lakers to three NCAA National Tournament appearances and two Great Lakes Intercollegiate Conference regular season titles (2014-15, 2015-16).
"We are looking forward to having Steve continue to lead the Lakers basketball program," said Director of Athletics, Dr. David Paitson. "Steve is a successful and highly respected leader within the department, Lake State and Sault Ste. Marie community. As part of his expanded duties as Assistant Athletic Director we will lean on Steve's experience and leadership to serve as a mentor to our young coaching staff."
A native of Three Oaks, Mich., Hettinga was named the 2013-14 and 2014-15 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year. After guiding the Lakers to a school-record tying 27 wins in 2013-14, Hettinga was also a finalist for the Clarence Gaines Award, which goes to the nation's top Division II men's basketball coach.
"It's exciting to know that (LSSU) is invested into our program and specifically myself," said Hettinga. "It certainly gives more stability to us when we're going out and recruiting and letting kids know that we're going to be here for a while.
"I'm very thankful to (LSSU President) Dr. Mitchell and Dr.Paitson for having the confidence in me to run this program. I feel very privileged and honored to be here."
With all the success that Hettinga and the men's basketball team has enjoyed on the court over the last 11 years, he said it's the people and the relationships he's built within the LSSU community that have meant the most to him.
"We've always been surrounded by great people here (at LSSU)," said Hettinga. "It's a very special place where people really look out for each other and it's always had that family atmosphere. It's a very welcoming place and place that I find very special to me personally."
In his expanded role as Assistant Athletic Director, Hettinga will take on several responsibilities including game administration, coach mentoring and facility scheduling. Mentoring will be a crucial aspect going forward as LSSU Athletics welcomes nine new coaches to the staff in the 2017-18 season.
"I really like the passion that our new coaches have," Hettinga said. "I see it in their workouts, I see it in their dedication to their individual sports. I've always thought that iron sharpens iron and theses new coaches are working really hard to be successful.
"The success is going to come for them. I'm excited to see our other programs have that success because they will have earned it through they're preparation and work ethic"
Once again, Hettinga has his team poised to make some postseason noise in the 2017-18 season as they are off to a 9-1 start, 4-0 in the GLIAC, and are the No.18-ranked team in the nation according to the latest National Association of Basketball Coaches poll.
The Lakers welcome No.5-ranked Ferris State to town this Saturday (3 p.m.) in a GLIAC rivalry game inside the Bud Cooper Gymnasium. Tickets are available at the Norris Center ticket office or online at lssulakers.com.