Joe Kittell enters the 2013-14 basketball season with more than one new experience staring him down.
Not only will this be his first season with Lake Region State Men's Basketball, but it's also his first season as a head coach with any team. However, that isn't to suggest that Kittell is without his fair share of coaching experience, because he already has plenty of that.
Now he's here with Lake Region State, ready to lead the Royals to great accomplishments in the coming seasons.
In fact, Kittell expects good things out of his team right off the bat.
“We have to get back to the level where we expect to get back to the national tournament every year," said Kittell, who previously served as an assistant at Gillete College in Wyoming the last three seasons (58-33 overall record). "Right now, we're competing to win the Mon-Dak, but in order to get to the national tournament, you've gotta win the Mon-Dak, then the region and then the district as well. I want us to be in a position where we're expected to win Mon-Dak and regional championships every year.
"We want to move on from the 'We're just happy to be here' attitude to the point where we're saying, 'We expect to be here.'”
A 2006 NDSU graduate, Kittell got his first taste of coaching as a student assistant next to Bison head coach Tim Miles, who has since moved on and now coaches at the University of Nebraska. Kittell assisted Miles for all four of his undergraduate years at NDSU, experience which afforded him a coaching opportunity at Mayville State soon after receiving his bachelors degree in physical education.
Kittell only worked one season with the Comets, but during that time, the team registered a 27-9 overall record, won the Dakota Athletic Conference regular season and conference tournament championships and made the NAIA Division II national championship game.
Before coaching at LRSC, Kittell has also coached as an assistant with North Dakota State College of Science (2007-08), Breckenridge (Minn.) High School (2008-09) and was a director and coach for Every Child's Important (ECI) Youth Services, a non-profit organization that runs summer traveling basketball teams in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota (2009-12).
During his time with ECI Basketball, the program help produce over a hundred national and regional college athletes, including 10 NCAA Division I basketball players.
Now, after all his work in basketball over the last decade, Kittell finally has his first head coaching opportunity, and he plans to tackle it head on.
Kittell expects his previous coaching experience to help him in his new venture this season.
“I think it'll be a big learning curve this year compared to the others," he said. "I think the one thing that will help me is that I've worked with some great guys and was an assistant for some great players. So I think those experiences can help me bring that to Lake Region, bring some new light, new ideas, new energy.
Page 2 of 2 - "Someone has to give you a shot, and Lake Region gave me that opportunity. There might be a few mistakes made here and there, but I'm hoping to make the very best of our situation here.”
The Royals are coming off a 2012-13 season that saw them post a 18-10 overall record (4-6 Mon-Dak). A key sophomore returning to the team this year is top-scorer Melvin Langstaff, who put up a team-high 18.2 points per game last season and is a former North Dakota Mr. Basketball selection. Sophomores Channing Reed and Darnell Landan are also expected to contribute heavily in 2013-14.
Kittell is anxious for the season to begin, and though it's his first year with the team, he expects immediate success.
“You have to make those expectations right away," he said. "You have to set the tone and the culture for that immediately. You always know that it's going to be a long road ahead, but if you don't expect it, it's not going to happen. We're going to expect it, we're going to set our standards and expectations high and we're going to try to go out and achieve them.”