Courtesy of Lake Superior State Sports Information
SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – Brandon Lokken's summer schedule took an about-face following the departure of Lake Superior State head women's basketball coach Kristen Rogers.
The long-time LSSU men's assistant coach will immediately step in as the Lakers' interim head women's basketball coach. After three seasons at LSSU, Rogers recently announced her resignation in order to pursue other coaching opportunities.
Lokken's passion for the game of basketball is topped only by his passion for Lake Superior State. From the time he was an undergraduate he has served the basketball program and campus where needed.
"At no point did I expect to be taking on this job," said Lokken. "But after thinking about it and the great opportunity that it is to be a head coach and build a program, and how much Lake State means to me, from being a student and getting my start here to continuing with the women's program is something I'm really excited about."
Lokken '11 was a student manager and student assistant coach for the LSSU men's basketball program while earning an undergraduate degree in secondary education. During the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons, he was a member of the Goshen (Ind.) College men's basketball coaching staff. Lokken served as the junior varsity head coach and interim varsity head coach for half a season. He returned to LSSU in 2014-15 as a second assistant and JV head coach, and was promoted to top assistant in 2015-16.
"Coach Lokken has been an invaluable member of our program for 10-plus years," LSSU men's basketball head coach Steve Hettinga said. "He worked his way up from being a student manager to being my top assistant. He truly loves the game of basketball, and, more importantly, he loves Lake State. Our women's program could not have found anyone who has invested more into Lake State than Brandon. He brings a high level of integrity and character to their program. I am very confident that he is the right person for the job. Although losing him is bittersweet, I still get to work alongside him, and I personally couldn't be happier for him. The future is bright for Lake State women's basketball."
Lokken has played a vital role during LSSU's impressive era with Hettinga, who recently finished his 10th season at LSSU. The Flushing, Mich., native was a student manager when the Lakers won the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference North Division title in 2008-09, and was part of two of Hettinga's three NCAA Tournament appearances.
Lokken described his first stint at LSSU as a five-year internship.
"I'm thankful for all of the things he's done for me," Lokken said of Hettinga. "When he took over (during Lokken's second year as a student at LSSU), he didn't chase a win or sacrifice anything for a win. He didn't change a single thing he stood for. During that first year, we were 0-7…At the end of the year we rattled off a couple wins. We beat Michigan Tech on the road, then upset them on their home floor. To see the big picture and trust the process all the way through – that was one of the best lessons he taught me."
Lokken said he gained confidence as a head coach during his two seasons at Goshen.
"Both jobs prepared me in their own ways," he said. "They got me to a place where I'm ready for this opportunity."
"Brandon has been an invaluable part of the Lake Superior State University basketball family for 10 years and is ready to take on the interim head women's basketball coach position," noted Jen Constantino, who is LSSU's interim director of athletics. Brandon clearly knows the Xs and Os of basketball and is able to teach the game to his athletes. He also brings years of experience in team building, player management and recruiting student-athletes to LSSU. I have full confidence in Brandon's ability to run our women's basketball program and allow the team to make a seamless transition this fall."
Lokken noted that he's walking away from a potentially great season with Laker men's basketball, but he won't be too far.
"Walking away from that is tough," he said. "It's unique that we're so close that I'll still be able to watch their games. I'll still be around to witness their success. The relationships will change as I shift my focus to the women. We were such a close family. They have had a huge impact on my life as a student, manager and assistant coach."
Lokken inherits a proud, but struggling women's basketball program whose last winning season was in 2010-11. He has already reached out to peers who have coached both men's and women's basketball to get a feel for the differences and similarities.
"The competition is still the same," he said. "We're all going to work every day to get better. It will still have a family feel. It will be a unique experience and something I'll really enjoy."
Lokken will serve as director for the LSSU women's basketball camps, which begin with this week's individual camp.