Nick Bennett excited about head coaching opportunity
11 seasons as an assistant coach in college, Nick Bennett is making the
transition to high school.
former Stevens Point Area Senior High School (SPASH) and University of
Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) standout spent the last three seasons as the top
assistant coach for the UW-Whitewater men’s basketball team, and was named the
boys basketball head coach at Racine St. Catherine’s Thursday, July 21.
replaces Bob Letsch, the second all-time winningest high school basketball
coach in state history, who retired after 37 seasons as the head coach at St.
heard it a lot now from my coaching friends, ‘why are you going to high school
from college?’” said Bennett. “There’s a lot of great coaches who have done it,
you’ve got (former UWSP top assistant) Scott Anderson right there at SPASH.
I go back to an old saying that my dad used to tell our UWSP teams that we
played on, ‘greatness knows no level,’” he said. “And I always think about that
when I was making my decisions or my career choices.
going to have some work to do, but St. Cat’s has been a great program, and they’ve
won a ton of State Titles,” he said. “Coach Letsch built that place up, and
before him coach (John) McGuire, so they have a ton of tradition. And I think
you have the potential there to be great.”
played for his father Jack at UWSP, where he was the Most Outstanding Player of
the 2004 NCAA Division III Tournament as a junior and a First Team All-American
as a senior in 2005 when the Pointers won back-to-back National Titles.
spent one season as a graduate assistant at UWSP and one season as a graduate
assistant director of basketball operations at NCAA Division 1 Marquette
University, before three seasons each as an assistant coach at Division 1
Florida Gulf Coast University and Division 1 Texas-Pan American, which is now the
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
took over as the top assistant coach at Whitewater for the 2013-14 season, when
the team won the NCAA Division III National Title.
a veteran-laden team back the next year, Whitewater was one of the top-ranked
teams in the nation throughout the 2014-15 season, before it was upset in the
First Round of the NCAA Tournament to finish 24-4 overall, and then went 16-10
last season and missed the NCAA Tournament.
look back and I’m really proud of our success we had,” said Bennett. “Obviously
this last year was more of a rebuilding year, we lost our top seven scorers
from the year before, so we brought in a ton of new faces, and we had a couple
of kids that got hurt and weren’t able to play.
overall as a whole, I’m very proud of what we did there to help keep it going at
a high level,” he said. “It was different being on the other sideline from
UWSP, well before my dad was the basketball coach at UWSP, I used to go to the
Bob Parker basketball camps when (Bob) Semling was his assistant and I was in fourth
grade, so I’ve been around that program probably the past 25 years.
it was really fun to be a part of the rivalry, because those Whitewater-Point
games were fun games to be a part of as a player, and obviously as a coach,” he
said. “And it was fun to be on both sidelines and see how both programs
Bennett had interviewed for college head coaching jobs the last couple of
years, he decided to take over as the head coach at St. Catherine’s High School
when Letsch retired with a 661-250 record in 37 seasons and won three WISAA
State Titles and five WIAA State Titles.
Letch has impacted so many individuals and so many families in the community,
it’s really hard to be somewhere in Racine and mention his name without
somebody knowing him,” said Bennett. “He went to school there, he was an
assistant there, and so he’s been in the St. Cat’s building, I believe someone
told me 55 years. So we’re talking someone who’s truly dedicated his life to a
place, and his impact on that school and that community is truly remarkable.
for me, I don’t look at it as the mindset of, ‘I’ve got big shoes to fill,’ or
‘I have to try to be coach Letsch,’” he said. “I’m just going to have to try to
be the best coach I can be, I’m going to take bits and pieces from all of the
people I’ve learned from and observed from along the way, and hopefully at the
end of the day we’ll be able to look back and say, ‘he kept this place going,
he really tried to do things the right way, and he was a good ambassador for
the Racine St. Cat’s program.’”
addition to running his own basketball program for the first time, Bennett will
also teach in the Social Science department, and he said the timing of the job
was a perfect fit.
had to teach at the college level, and I really enjoy that aspect,” he said.
“It’s a way that you can really impact kids in a different way, not just on the
obviously you’re impacting more kids than just the boys basketball team,” he
said. “So for me, it just kind of fit everything I was looking for.”
Catherine’s was 8-15 overall last season and 7-9 to finish sixth in the Metro
Classic Conference, which also includes last season’s WIAA Division 5 State
Runner-up Burlington Catholic Central and Whitefish Bay Dominican, the WIAA
Division 4 State Champion in each of the last five seasons.
looking at Dominican, in awe of them winning five straight State Titles,” said Bennett.
“I don’t really care your level, that’s some special stuff.
I’m just hoping at first we can compete,” he said. “And then hopefully down the
road we can have this place going, to be at that great level.”