Kusler, Govs embark on historic first season

Governors are off to a fast start under the leadership of the first female coach for a Boys “AA” basketball team in South Dakota history.
Brianna Kusler is making history as the first female head coach of a boys AA basketball team in South Dakota state history.
Published: Dec. 17, 2021 at 12:20 AM CST
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PIERRE, S.D.- Breanna Kusler sounds like a seasoned head coach.

“We really want to be competitive in every game we play, at the AA level where we play, night in and night out its really anybody’s ball game,” Kusler said.

But Kusler, 24, is breaking new ground. She is the first female head coach of a AA boys basketball team in South Dakota history.

“She just gets us, she wants what is best for us and works us really hard,” said Jackson Edman, junior forward.

“I think we have all kind of bought in to her ideas, and just what she has done. And at the end of the day, just played basketball,” said Lincoln Kienholz, junior guard.

Kusler says that when she took the job in May, the adrenaline came faster than the start of practice.

“It was kind of like a “hurry up and wait,” it felt like for the longest time,” Kusler explained. “The boys really embraced the off season grind of development... and that is not always the most glorious side of the game.”

“Just this year, its been a lot more competitive at practice, its kind of been more fun too,” said Matthew Hanson, Riggs’ only senior. “We are running around, playing basketball with each other. Its been overall more competitive, and we have just been flying around.”

Coach Kusler sees her age as a benefit. An easier way to look back at the not-so-distant past when she was a stand out for the Northern State Wolves.

“I think back to all the times that I have been so fortunate and blessed to have the coaches that I’ve had growing up, they have been tremendous role models,” said Kusler. “I can think back to our practices and how productive they were, and how purposeful they were, and that is what we want our gym to be like.”

Kusler’s squad knows that when they step between the lines, the expectations are always high with their first year head coach.

“I don’t think of her as a woman coach, she yells just as much if not more than any other coach we have ever had, she really pushes us,” said Edman.

“The game of basketball as a player has brought me a ton of different opportunities. I have so many great memories growing up and just lifelong friendships... now on the flip side I get to be in that role,” Kusler explained. “Growing them not only as better athletes but also as better people.”

The Governors are off to a 3-0 start, after winning two games in Rapid City to open the season, and taking their home opener from Sturgis Friday evening. They play Spearfish at home Saturday at 2 PM.

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