Craig Nelson’s coaching career comes full circle


BRANDON, S.D. (KELO) — Following the state basketball tournament this March, Brandon Valley boys basketball coach Brent Deckert announced he was stepping down. More than a month later, the Lynx found Deckert’s successor, former Washington coach Craig Nelson, who comes back to the place his coaching career started.

Craig Nelson joined Brent Deckert’s staff after a successful playing career at Northern State. It was his college coach, the legendary Don Meyer who helped Nelson find his first job.

“Craig was a good enough player to play for him. Way back in 2005, he kept telling me, we got a guy who wants to be a high school coach, and I think he would be really, really good,” Brent Deckert said.

“Stuck his nose out for me to get me to apply for this job, but also to allow me to get an interview and be able to start my coaching career at a place like this,” Craig Nelson said.

Nelson would spend four years as an assistant under Deckert before taking the Washington Head Coaching job.

“I think he was with us four or five years, and when he took the job at Washington we knew we were losing someone really, really good. But we knew he would be great wherever he went,” Deckert said.

Nelson would spend the next 9 seasons with the Warriors, leading them to 6 state tournaments, and a pair of runner-up finishes. But he continued his friendship with the man that gave him his first coaching gig.

“We spoke about once a week or so. Not only that, but we’re family friends. He obviously still lives in Brandon,” Deckert said.

When Deckert stepped down this spring, it provided Nelson a unique opportunity.

“I always knew if one job came open in the area that I’d be interested in, and it happened to be this one. That I wouldn’t look anywhere else. My family lives out here, my kids are in the school district and it was a good fit. It was just time for us to make that move,” Nelson said.

But leaving Washington was not an easy decision.

“Honestly that was the worst meeting I’ve ever had to do. That was not fun at all. I hate to leave those guys. They’re good kids, they happen to be talented basketball players as well. I’m going to be cheering them on from a few miles away,” Nelson said.

Now Nelson’s coaching career will come full circle.

“For him to come back, for this situation to pop up was a great situation for everybody. Obviously a great situation for Craig and his family, and it’s an easy transition for me as well,” Deckert said.

Nelson will teach physical education at Brandon Valley. Along with coaching boys basketball, Craig will also be the girls golf head coach, a position he also held in his previous stint at the school.

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