Osakis boys basketball coach Matt Hoelscher was admittedly surprised when he saw he was named the Section 6AA coach of the year recently by the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association.
Section 6AA always hosts quality programs and coaches, but Hoelscher has put the Silverstreaks right into that class as well. He guided Osakis to another big season with a 25-3 overall record. That included a perfect run through the Prairie Conference at 10-0 on the way to winning a fourth straight conference title.
The Silverstreaks ran all over Long Prairie-Grey Eagle in the Section 6AA opener on March 5 before falling in an 81-73 game to 26-3 Pine City.
“When I saw I won the award, I was shocked because we have a lot of great coaches and teams in our section,” Hoelscher said. “The coaches in our section vote on this award and it usually goes to the section winner. I think other coaches are more deserving than I am for what they accomplished throughout the year or during the playoffs, so it's very humbling to receive the recognition from other coaches we compete against. It's not just about me. It's all about the players and staff working together that makes this award achievable and special.”
Hoelscher called earning the award a collective achievement for the whole program -- from coaches and players, to parents and the entire community.
“I don’t receive this award without any of them,” he said. “I have a great coaching staff that puts in the time preparing for practices, opponents, skill development, and personal growth for our athletes. They keep me grounded and give positive insight on our goals, which is why we work well together.”
Hoelscher gave the majority of the credit to the athletes he coached.
“They're the ones scoring points, playing defense, and working hard to achieve success in practice and in games,” he said. “As a coach, I can strategize and have a gameplan, but it's the players that have to execute and win the games. We've been lucky to have athletes that can make adjustments during games, that strive to work on their individual skills to make themselves and their teammates better, and athletes that want to compete at the highest level. With the support of their families and our community, we've been allowed to do things the past few years that put our players and program in a spotlight where others are starting to notice us.”
The Silverstreaks have rolled to a 94-19 record over the past four years, and a talented senior class from this past school year helped lead the way to that. Osakis graduated eight seniors.
That makes this a big offseason for kids who now have roles to fill on varsity. The COVID-19 pandemic has also thrown some challenges into preparing and team building work Hoelscher was hoping his returning athletes could do together.
“We don't know what we can or can't do to build our team chemistry,” he said. “We have things planned out, but things are always changing due to COVID-19.”
One thing is certain if a season goes on as normal next winter -- Osakis will have plenty of minutes available for a new wave of athletes.
“We have guys ready to step up and accept the challenge,” Hoelscher said. “A lot of our success will be determined by what players are working on their game individually at home during this pandemic. In any sport, if you want to maintain success both individually and as a group, athletes need to put in extra time outside of what coaches organize, and that couldn't be any more relevant than the situation we are in right now.”