Gathman steps down as Devils Lake boys basketball head coach

Jack Williams
Devils Lake Journal
Devils Lake logo

Upon confirmation to the Devils Lake Journal from Devils Lake High School Activities Director Jason Wiberg, Derek Gathman has resigned from the Devils Lake boys basketball head coaching position following the end of the 2020-21 season due to personal reasons.  

Gathman will still continue to teach math at Devils Lake High School and serve as an assistant coach for the varsity baseball team. The search for a new boys basketball head coach is still ongoing. 

"Ultimately, my main reason for stepping down as head coach was the inability to fill the time commitment of a Class A head boys basketball coach," Gathman said. "With increasing responsibilities in my teaching job, starting a master's degree and my wife being due with our third child this May, I knew that I wouldn't be able to put the time in to keep our program moving forward in the right direction, especially in the offseason which is the most important time for improvement."

"I also felt that my voice and message wasn't carrying in the locker room like in the past for whatever reason and it was best for the program to get a fresh voice. This group of guys from this past season has a lot of potential and I didn't want to hold them back due to my other commitments. I will be their biggest fan in these upcoming seasons and wish the next coach the best." 

Gathman is a 2004 graduate of Devils Lake High School, attending and playing for Mayville State University from 2004 to 2009. He stepped into the program in 2011 at 24-years-old, replacing Josh Johnson, who had coached the Firebirds for one season before resigning. Prior to Gathman's arrival, he had coached a year for the now defunct Munich-Starkweather co-op. 

During his time as head coach, he amounted an 83-143 record over 10 seasons, taking the Firebirds to the Class A State Tournament twice in 2016 and 2020. In the post-season, under Gathman's tenure, the Firebirds were 8-17. This past season, Devils Lake went 2-16, placing 11th in the EDC. 

Gathman also coached Devils Lake's only second North Dakota Mr. Basketball winner in Grant Nelson in 2020. Nelson now plays basketball for North Dakota State. 

"I feel very fortunate to have coached a lot of great young men in my ten years here at DLHS and have really enjoyed the relationships I've built with them after they've graduated," Gathman said. "I am confident that I have left the program in better shape than it was when I took the job ten years ago.  Most importantly, I'm excited that I'll get to spend more time at home with my wife, Megan, and my children as they grow up."  

Jack Williams covers Lake Region sports and general news for the Devils Lake Journal. Contact him via email at, or on Twitter @jackgwilliams, or phone at 701-662-2127.