DeVries returns to VCSU
Coaching transitions can sometimes be complicated.
Less than one year after resigning as head coach, Jill DeVries is back to guide the program she took to three straight national tournaments.
The former NDSU star stepped away last June, citing a desire to do something else. She did that, but learned coaching is where she’s supposed to be.
“I feel very blessed to get this opportunity. Leaving, and then coming back, is not something that happens very often,” she said. “But for me this was a no-brainer and I’m very happy to be coming home.”
DeVries takes over for Cathy Hanek, who had a rocky lone season in charge. Under DeVries, the Vikings had gone 100-57 the previous five seasons, including trips to the NAIA national tournament from 2011-2013 and a school-record 24 wins in 2012-13.
The Vikings slumped to 13-12 last season.
Leaving last year was a difficult decision for DeVries, who spent the year as a substitute teacher in the southern suburbs of the Twin Cities.
“It was a really good experience in a lot of ways. It was different from coaching. I guess it really made me appreciate what I had. Not that (subbing) is bad, because it wasn’t, but it really made me appreciate and miss coaching,” said DeVries, VCSU’s all-time winningest coach with 219 wins.
While the transition may appear seamless on the outside, DeVries said it won’t be quite that easy, although she remains quite familiar with the players on the team, having recruited most of them.
“They have the right to wonder what happened and why I left,” she said. “The why can be complicated sometimes, but the bottom line is it’s the right time for me to come back and I’m thrilled and I’m really excited to get started.”
Last season, the North Star Athletic Association was a two-horse race between powerhouse University of Jamestown and budding perennial contender Mayville State. With DeVries back in Valley City, it figures only to add to the strength of the league.
“Those are the things you really miss. The rivalries, the big games, it’s hard to replace that,” she said. “Those competitive juices that get flowing from playing and coaching, it’s hard to get that anywhere else. I’m very thankful to get back into that and to do it at Valley City State.”
Sun sports editor Dave Selvig can be reached at (701) 952-8460 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org