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College basketball: New Minnesota West coach Aaron Poor Bear loves the game

WORTHINGTON -- The way in which Minnesota West Community and Technical College suddenly found itself without a men's basketball coach in mid-September was both unexpected and untimely. But the Bluejays' new hire, Aaron Poor Bear, is doing his ver...

WORTHINGTON -- The way in which Minnesota West Community and Technical College suddenly found itself without a men’s basketball coach in mid-September was both unexpected and untimely. But the Bluejays’ new hire, Aaron Poor Bear, is doing his very best to ensure that everything will turn out fine in the end.

Poor Bear, a resident of Boyden, Iowa, was chosen late last week to take over the reins of the program from Kris Babler, who unexpectedly resigned his position two weeks earlier. Babler’s assistant coach, Dave Walker, was quickly appointed interim head coach, but Walker resigned only a couple of days after that.

With practices soon to begin in preparation for the 2017-18 season and a schedule that kicks off in weeks, Minnesota West had to scramble to fill the position.

Fortunately, said men’s athletic director Bob Purcell, they found a candidate from among several choices who is a good fit.

“He was willing to adjust his schedule, and he seemed like he had the energy to do it,” said Purcell. “It was a very positive situation from both sides.”

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Poor Bear is currently employed with the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation in recruitment and retention. He works out of his home in Boyden, and his job requires him to travel regularly. He’s also a full-time husband and father. His wife, Shannon, works as a band instructor in the George-Little Rock school system. They have a daughter, Kaia, age 1 year and a half.

West’s new head men’s basketball coach became interested in the college, he said, first and foremost because he’s passionate about coaching.

“I love coaching. Coaching is a big part of my life,” said Poor Bear, who first coached as a student in college.

“I ultimately want to coach college basketball,” he told The Globe. “That’s what I’m hoping for -- something that is more long-term. And that’s what I’m hoping for at Minnesota West.”

He has experience at multiple levels, including at George-Little Rock High School. He has also coached at Manhattan Christian College, Wagner Community School and South Dakota State University. Poor Bear stopped working full time so that he could return to college for his master’s degree at Ohio University, and while there he accepted an assistant’s position at Manhattan Christian College. He was head boys basketball coach at G-LR last season.

On Monday morning, Poor Bear spoke with several of the current Minnesota West players. The meeting went well, he said.

He admitted that he didn’t know much about Worthington before the hiring process began.

“It’s all coming together very quickly. And I can adjust pretty quickly,” he said, adding, “That’s really what it’s all about, the human connection. And that’s what I want to do, connect with these players and connect with the community.”

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Poor Bear intends to play a high-spirited game on both ends of the basketball court.

“I’m very defensive-minded and very up-tempo,” he explained. “I actually will play a variety of defenses. … We try to keep teams off-balance and make them uncomfortable with the things they’re trying to do.”

The new Bluejay mentor doesn’t appear put off by the circumstances surrounding his hire, but instead declares himself energized by the possibilities.

“I’m about moving on. At this point, you learn from your past, which is what I’m sure is happening with Minnesota West,” he said. “And you move on.”

Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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