The End Of An Era

For the past five years Luke Powers has guided the New England boy’s basketball program. It was an era in which the team accumulated more than 40 wins the last two years and advanced to its first state tournament in nearly two decades.

Powers (RGB)

By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor | cbenz@countrymedia.net

For the past five years Luke Powers has guided the New England boy’s basketball program. It was an era in which the team accumulated more than 40 wins the last two years and advanced to its first state tournament in nearly two decades. But on Wednesday, April 29 at 2 p.m., the era came to an end as Powers informed New England Activities Director Daryl Jung that he had accepted another coaching position, and would be leaving.

Powers has been a part of the varsity program for seven years (assisting for the first two), but his start with basketball in New England began with a younger group of athletes. His first coaching stint was with the fourth, fifth and sixth grade team. That team featured players he would eventually coach all the way to Bismarck this year.

Powers is headed back to his Alma mater in Butte, Mont., and said the process went quickly. It was only a matter of days between applying, interviewing and ultimately accepting the job. He said it had been an emotional week and the decision was not made lightly.

“It happened really fast,” Powers said. “It’s obviously not easy to leave a place you’ve grown attached to in New England.”

One can assume Powers’ coaching stock was the highest it has ever been. After receiving two post-season coaching awards (Region 7 Coach of The Year, and Class B Coach of The Year), Jung said he knew other people would be calling for his services.

“We knew when he got (region) coach of the year and state coach of the year, guess what, there’s going to be people after him,” Jung said.

Chasing after him was his hometown school, Butte High School. Butte is a town with a population north of 30,000, and Butte High School has an enrollment number of 1,439, according to the school’s website. They also play Class AA basketball, which would compare to North Dakota’s Class A.

Powers said he thinks he will coach the rest of his life, and even though he is getting out of his comfort zone, this is essentially a career advancement.

“I really believe I’ll coach basketball the rest of my life,” Powers said. “You don’t get anywhere without taking risks.”

Jung echoed those sentiments to Powers during their conversation, and told him “these opportunities may only come along once.”

Jung said “we wish him the best” as he moves on to his next coaching endeavor.

When asked if he could name one thing he will miss about New England, Powers knew that one thing wouldn’t do any justice, but managed to pull his thoughts together for something that stood out.

“I could tell you about a million things, but one thing off the top of my head that I’ll miss is the kids, just the work ethic and the understanding that our kids came to play basketball,” Power said.

Jung said the search for a replacement has already begun and that it is “going to be tough” to replace the win total that the team accumulated under Powers.

He said he wants to find a coach with experience, and he knows the key to a successful program is stability.

“Anytime you have a guy that’s been here seven years, five years as head coach, that’s what gives programs stability is when the coaching staffs don’t leave,” Jung said.

Jung and Superintendent Kelly Koppinger have already compiled a list of potential coaches in hopes of reaching out to them, but Jung said eventually they could open it up to the region and possibly statewide.

The hope is to get a coach in place soon, and hopefully by the start of summer.

“We don’t want to go through summer without anyone,” Jung said.

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