The time seemed right and it was an opportunity too good to pass up for veteran high school basketball coach Adam Dannenbring as he was recommended to take over as the new head girls' basketball coach for Rapid City Stevens.
In a press release late Wednesday afternoon, Stevens’ activities director Jared Vasquez said that they are happy to recommend a veteran coach such as Dannenbring for the position.
“Adam has a wealth of basketball coaching experience, including head coaching experience," Vasquez said. "He has also served as the assistant boys’ basketball coach at Stevens, and he brings calm, but huge passion for coaching and teaching to the position.”
Dannenbring previously was a head girls' coach at Stanley County for three years and also spent five years as head girls' coach at Canton. He has 24 years of coaching high school basketball in South Dakota and Minnesota.
“Sometimes I think it is being at the right place at the right time. I think that is what happened to me here,” Dannenbring told the Journal Wednesday night. “I was not expecting to have this opportunity, so when it came up I talked it over with my wife and we decided it would be a great opportunity to be able to coach at Rapid City Stevens with what they built with their program, to come in and join the crew that is coming back. I feel lucky and blessed with the opportunity.”
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Dannenbring replaces Michael Brooks, who resigned in early October. The Raiders girls' program, under Brooks last season, fell in the state title game to Sioux Falls Washington. In 2019, Stevens was 19-1 before the season ended because of the pandemic, under Travis Swartz, who was an assistant to Brooks in the previous three years, as well as 2020-2021.
Stevens lost four seniors from last year's squad, but returns several starters and regulars.
Dannenbring said that with a lot of players returning with experience and ability, this year’s Stevens job is much different than the other jobs he took over in the past.
“I am blessed to come in with so much talent,” he said. “It will be my job to try not to screw anything up basically. I definitely am going to have to lean on my assistant coaches for help."
Dannebring won a state championship for DeSmet in 1995 as a player under head coach Marv McCune, and went to Northern State University, where he studied under legendary Wolves men’s head coach Don Meyer, taking his Theory of Coaching Basketball classes.
He started coaching while in college at Northwestern High School for a couple of years, before coaching for five years as a boys' assistant at Canton and then five years as the head girls’ coach at the school. After two years in Fairmont, Minn., he joined Stevens as a boys' assistant from 2012-17, before going to Stanley County for three years as the girls’ head coach. He returned to Stevens last year as a boys’ assistant.
“I’ve been lucky enough to be around a lot of good coaches at Stevens, like Coach (Derris) Buus, Coach (Ron) Riherd, Coach (Jason) Olson and Coach (Chris) Stoebner,” he said. “I’ve seen how AA programs are run, and I’ve seen how they have done it very well. It will help me throughout this experience as well.”
Dannenbring said he will lean on his assistants, including Swartz, and not try to change the terminology for the players.
“I said this in my interview that I realize I am not the coach these girls wanted for this season, but I am going to do my best to make it a great experience for them,” he said. “When you coach high school kids, you take a look at what talent you have. Playing fast and aggressive are the way these girls can play, which is a fantastic way to play basketball, and I don’t want to screw that up."
The Raiders begin their first official practice on Monday, Nov. 22, and Dannenbring said he is excited to accept the challenge of leading the program.
“Even though I have a lot of coaching experience, I am a little nervous because I want it to go well for these girls, and I’m looking forward to it,” he said.