Havre Daily News sports editor
Nate Larson has wanted to be a head basketball coach at the collegiate level for a long time. And he has specifically wanted to coach at Montana Tech where he played in the 1990s.
On Tuesday afternoon, Larson was officially given his chance as he was named the new head coach at Montana Tech. Larson replaces Mike Bauer of Whitefish, who resigned at the end of the 2005-06 season after the Orediggers went 3-11 in Frontier Conference play and 11-18 overall.
Larson is a native of Cut Bank, where he led the Wolves to the 1993 Class B state championship and was named to the Montana/Wyoming All-Star team during his senior season. He played at Montana Tech his senior season and helped guide the Orediggers to an NAIA national tournament appearance. Before transferring to Tech, Larson played three seasons at then Northern Montana College where he was part of two teams that went to the NAIA national tournament. After graduating from Montana Tech Larson was also a graduate-assistant in Butte for one season.
For the past four years, Larson has been an assistant to MSU-N head coach Shawn Huse and in that time the Lights have gone 71-48 under the coaching tandem.
“I am proud that Nate is making the transition from his job here at MSU-Northern to head coach at Montana Tech,” Huse said. “Nate has been a friend of mine for many years and my assistant coach since 2002 and I am going to miss him on both levels.”
While Larson has been a stable part of Northern's basketball program for years, he has also served as sports information director at MSU-N as well. Although he will no doubt miss the Lights' program, he recently admitted that coaching at Montana Tech has been on his mind for quite some time.
“Ever since I got to Northern I've had this vision of coaching at Montana Tech,” Larson said in a public forum last week. “This is a perfect opportunity for me, and I've been thinking about it for four years.”
Aside from his experience coaching at the collegiate level, Larson was also the head girl's basketball coach at Butte Central High School for a time, as well as the freshman boy's coach at Butte Central. Larson also served as the junior varsity boys coach at Whitehall High School.
“I am pleased and excited to have Nate Larson join our staff at Montana Tech” Tech athletic director Bob Green said. “Nate was an outstanding student-athlete in our program. He has played a big role in rejuvenating the MSU-Northern program with coach Huse. Nate knows Montana Tech and he knows the Frontier Conference and he will hit the ground running.
“Success has followed Nate throughout his career as a player and a coach,” Green added. “He is a perfect fit for our program.”
Larson's Montana Tech and Frontier Conference background made him an attractive candidate to help revive a once-highly successful Montana Tech program. He also touted his strong defensive background and said he would implement a Princeton style offense at Tech.
“It's more a team-oriented offense where all five players have to work together,” Larson said. “I think it's a good fit for this school.”
Said Huse: “I know the Orediggers are fortunate to be gaining his services, and I am very excited that he is getting this opportunity.”
Larson will address the media and meet local fans and boosters during a press conference scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Friday in Butte. Larson will also meet with his players for the first time Friday afternoon.