After spending the past five years as an assistant boys basketball coach at Notre Dame Regional High School, Brian Brandtner believed he was ready to run his own program.
Caruthersville High School officials evidently agreed because Brandtner was hired Thursday night as the new head coach of the Tigers. He replaces Kevin Williams, who recently became an assistant coach at Southeast Missouri State University.
"I'm ecstatic," said Brandtner, 27, a 1993 Notre Dame graduate. "I feel like I'm ready for this position and I can't wait to get going. I really appreciate the administration at Caruthersville for giving me this opportunity."
Although Brandtner will be a head coach on the high school varsity level for the first time, he directed Notre Dame's junior varsity team for the last three years and the school's freshmen squad the season before that.
More significantly, Brandtner believes working under three varsity head coaches at Notre Dame the past five years -- Chris Janet, Chris Neff and current boss Darrin Scott -- has given him valuable insight.
"I learned so much the last few years under three great coaches," Brandtner said. "I have matured a lot as a coach because of working with them and the timing just seems so right for me."
Brandtner said he had no real desire to coach until the summer of 1991, when he was about to enter his junior year of high school. A horrific accident one August day, in which he fell off a rock quarry at Trail of Tears Park during an outing with friends, ended his playing days. Brandtner's long road to recovery has included about 35 surgeries and he still walks with a pronounced limp.
"I never really gave coaching a whole lot of thought until the accident. I was always more concerned about playing," Brandtner said. "I had an empty void after the accident. Something was missing. I would always talk sports, talk about basketball coaching strategies."
Steered toward coaching
Several years went by when Brandtner said his wife Jessica, who was his girlfriend at the time, made a suggestion that proved invaluable.
"One day she finally said 'why don't you coach?' I went to talk to Chris Janet and I was hired on as an assistant," Brandtner said. "It kind of all started from there."
Brandtner said he will miss Notre Dame but is ready to build roots in Caruthersville as he, Jessica and Anna, the couple's four-year-old daughter, are excited about moving south. Brandtner will begin his new duties Aug. 12.
Caruthersville, which two years ago under Williams won a district title for the first time in school history and reached the Class 2A quarterfinals, went 14-11 last season with a young team.
"I'm walking into a great situation with a great team," Brandtner said. "The program has been getting turned around the last few years and I want to keep building on that."
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