Sports | Michael Urch
Doug Novak, Bethel's new men's basketball coach brings 23 years of experience to the program. He was previously the top assistant for the program at Tulane University. | Photo for The Clarion by Kristine Schmidt
Armed with 23 years of basketball coaching experience, including seven at the Division I level, Doug Novak is now the head coach at Bethel and feels no regrets about the transition to the Division III level.
“I think that I just took a major step up into Division III at Bethel,” Novak said. “For my life, for how I want to run a program, for the kind of kids I want to coach, this is a big step up.”
While he was in the area recruiting, Novak came to Bethel on a simple fact-finding visit. He was here to learn a bit more about the school, but he ended up having a three-hour interview with the athletic director and all of the coaches.
According to Athletic Director Bob Bjorklund, nobody had the intention of making it an extended interview. The interview made it clear to Novak that Bethel was the right choice for him, and the athletic staff at Bethel was impressed with Novak.
“I was blown away by what Bethel had to offer,” Novak said. “I mean just blown out of the water. Shocked at the quality of coaching of all of the sports.”
“He wanted to be here for all the reasons we would want someone to be here for,” Bjorklund said.
The culture of Bethel athletics, specifically the family atmosphere and the presence of strong Christians had a profound impact on Novak.
“One of my favorite things in the world is talking about the culture and the atmosphere of the department," Bjorklun said. “It’s something he was looking for. I think he’s attracted to it, and he’s already meshed himself in."
Coming from Division I might mean a cut in pay and working with different types of players, but in Novak’s eyes, giving up these things is far outweighed by the benefits.
“You might think there were some sacrifices, but the other coaches, the school and what it stands for was such a good investment for my family’s future," Novak said.
As far as his performance on the court, Novak certainly knows his stuff and has earned the respect of his players.
“Just talking to him for five minutes makes you feel smarter about basketball,” senior guard Tyler Schmidt said.
For Novak, it is and always has been about more than basketball. His office holds a multi-layered “circle of control” diagram that outlines his philosophy about both the game and life. This is something that he passes on to students.
“He knows how to apply basketball to life,” Schmidt added.
“Doug being here is one of the things that I’m just really thankful for. I’m thankful for who he is and how he interacts with the people around him,” head women’s basketball coach Jon Herbrechtsmeyer said.
The Royals tip-off the 2013-2014 season on Nov. 19 at UW-Stout and Novak is happy to be there to coach Bethel through the season.
“Not once have I said that I’m not sure about this. Everyday just reinforces that this was the right choice for me,” he said.