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Molly Birch

My name is Molly, and I am in my second year at NMU. I come from Midland, MI, probably one of the most boring places on earth. However, we do have the only Tridge in the world, so that’s pretty nifty...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

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Women’s spring soccer comes to an end this weekend
Lily GouinApril 19, 2024

NMU Men’s Basketball adds two to coaching staff in attempt to make GLIAC push

FRESH SEASONS MEETS FRESH HIRES—After beginning his coaching tenure at NMU a year ago, Head Coach Matt Majkrzak is trying to get the Wildcats over the hump in the GLIAC with the two Assistant Coach additions of Kyle Sorenson and Charlie Wallrapp. Photo courtesy of NMU Men’s Basketball.

After starting behind the eight-ball a year ago by taking the NMU Men’s Basketball coaching job in June, Head Coach Matt Majkrzak is ahead of the game this time around with the hirings of Assistant Coaches Charlie Wallrapp and Kyle Sorenson.

It hasn’t taken long for Wallrapp and Sorenson to make impressions on Majkrzak in their first summer on the job, taking control of team drills. As a young coach, Majkrzak was impressed by his newest hires.

“Now when I hired these guys, I kind of remembered it was one of the early season workouts and I kind of sat back. They were both running drills and I didn’t have to do anything other than kind of clap and say, ‘good job.’ It was definitely one of those moments where you’re like, ‘man, we hired a really good staff that’s top of the line.’”

Wallrapp comes to NMU after a two-year stint at Clarke University as an assistant coach, where the Pride made its first-ever national tournament appearance and conference championship game a year ago. Before Clarke, Wallrapp made a few stops to begin his coaching career including Kansas Wesleyan University and West Oaks and Max My Game Academy. Wallrapp was an outstanding player as well at the college level, becoming a two-time captain and All-American at Benedictine College.

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“I’ve actually met Matt while he was the head coach at Bryant-Stratton, and we were recruiting one of his players down at Clarke University,” Wallrapp said. “Just got to know him a little bit there, and then when the job opened up, I reached out to him and once I learned more about the program and him and Marquette, just saw all of the benefits and wanted to be a part of it.”

While the Wildcats are trying to make a championship push into GLIAC contention, Majkrzak said that Wallrapp was clearly the best fit in the searching process to help put NMU back at the top of the conference once again.

“It was kind of a fun process. Going into it was kind of open-minded who we were going to hire and we talked to a bunch of different people for the job and Charlie kind of stood out from everyone else that we talked to,” Majkrzak said.

It was later in the summer when the program announced that Kyle Sorenson was hired as an assistant coach for the ‘Cats. Sorenson graduated this year from Saint John’s University in Minnesota after ending his playing career there and receiving the Comeback Player of the Year award from the school. Before leading Saint John’s to success the past two seasons, Sorenson started his college playing career at Bemidji State University, where Majkrzak was an assistant coach.

“You could always tell that he was passionate about basketball. He was kind of always the players’ coach for us and a type of guy that you can talk to and have conversations with. You just always knew the passion was there,” Sorenson said.

Sorenson said that after finishing up his playing days, he wanted to stay in basketball and get into coaching. Once the opportunity presented itself between two reunited parties, NMU’s second assistant was on board.

“Kyle was kind of different in that I coached Kyle in college when he was a player, and so I’ve known him for a long time,” Majkrzak said. “He was one that we knew of wanted on staff, and you just had to figure out some logistical stuff, but we’re really excited to have him too.”

When talking about college and pro basketball players, everyone tries to diagnose who would make a good coach by players’ leadership on and off of the court. As a coach who has made many stops in the past few years, Majkrzak has been able to spot the difference in a player that he has coached and another that has many accolades.

“When you’re coaching guys, you definitely can see the ones that would have a future in coaching. It’s usually pretty obvious with how smart they are, and just kind of how they approach the game day-in and day-out,” Majkrzak said. “These two were really good players and I think it gives you a different perspective when you’re a coach; when you’re a really good player on a winning team you can relate to the guys and lead them in a different way.”

The two former players and current Wildcat coaches have been impressed with NMU and the community surrounding it despite only being in the U.P. for a short amount of time. Wallrapp said that the facilities stood out first with the Berry Events Center and Superior Time, and that the area presents itself as a good advantage for recruiting. Sorenson said that his first time on campus made him think that this is a school where he would have played basketball. 

What has impressed the coaches, even more, is the work ethic of this year’s team. Majkrzak thinks he has hired the right coaches to get the program over the hump, and the players seem to be living up to that bar too.

“I see a lot of energy and a lot of passion with the team. I just think there’s a lot more experience for a team being relatively young and I just think there’s a lot of guys that aren’t going to settle with losing. They’re sick of it,” Sorenson said.

Once the season begins, if it does begin, NMU has its full staff of coaches and a full roster of players ready to go with the same mindset of putting Wildcat Basketball on the map.

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