Success at the top: Mitchell’s Pat Møller among finalists for national tennis coach award – Mitchell Republic

MITCHELL – For every season that passes, Mitchell’s head tennis coach Pat Møller’s Kernel program seems to reach new heights.

Not bad for a coach who admits he ‘whistled completely’ when he stepped into the top role more than ten years ago.

During his 11-year period as coach of both the girls ‘and boys’ teams, Møller has been nominated for the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Coach of the Year award once for each gender. This year, Møller is recognized on the girls’ side and is one of the seven finalists to win the award as Coach of the Year at this year’s NHSACA National Convention in Des Moines, Iowa from 18-22. June.

Leading the girls team to its first Class A state title ever in 2019 led to three-straight Class A championships, together and back-to-back Eastern South Dakota Conference titles, Møller is the first Mitchell coach to be a finalist for national coaches the association’s award for coach of the year, since boys basketball coach Gary Munsen won the award in 2013.

“It is an incredible honor and it is an honor to represent the region because there are many good coaches in the area,” said Møller. “I am proud to be able to represent these coaches and represent our region with this honor. I can not thank the athletes enough for what they have done and all the coaches over the years for the advice they have given me. I am fortunate to be surrounded by coaches and players who are as passionate about the sport as I am. ”

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Mitchell’s tennis coach Pat Møller demonstrates how to earn properly in Hitchcock Park on April 11, 2022.

Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

Throughout his tenure, Møller also led the boys’ tennis team to five of their six ESD titles. At the end of the 2020-21 season, he surpassed his predecessor and longtime MHS coach Gayle Klein for all-time victories as the boys’ head coach with a record of 156 wins and 35 losses, giving him a winning percentage of 0.820.

Møller has also achieved the best dual-record winning percentage for Mitchell girls tennis along with the most victories ever in Mitchell boys tennis, but his introduction to coaching did not seem to herald that this kind of success would be on the way.

To improve his coaching and knowledge of the sport, he reached out and worked with several tennis coaches throughout the state, including Jason Olson of Rapid City Stevens and Mitchell’s assistant coaches Chad Larson, John Cersosimo and Bruce Mastel, on plan, recruiting, learning the sport’s mechanics and creating a unique system.

When Møller’s mission was to build something that would last in the Mitchell community, he sacrificed in every possible way to get the most out of the program. From shoveling the tennis courts in the winter just to give his team an opportunity to practice, to taking on up to four hours of road trips with his staff and athletes from junior high school to give them more opportunities to compete. Møller understood that connections with children would be one of the most important ingredients for creating a recipe that Mitchell could succeed with.

“Part of the reason our system has grown to what it is today is that I became a relentless recruiter of middle school kids,” Møller said. “You need athletes, and you need a lot of them as coaches because not everyone wants to stick to the sport. I’ve gone to hockey, softball and baseball events and tournaments to connect with kids. I found that when you do, children will give your sport a chance, and it’s easier for them to fall in love with that sport. “

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Mitchell’s tennis coach Pat Møller demonstrates how to earn properly in Hitchcock Park on April 11, 2022.

Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

In addition to coaching tennis, Møller teaches mathematics at MHS and has been a basketball coach for many years for the Mitchell boys middle school team and an assistant at the high school level. As Møller has only become more successful in coaching tennis over the years, he religiously thanks his mentors and other coaches for giving him all the tools he needed to succeed.

One of the coaches who has been right next to Møller throughout his tenure as a boys tennis coach is assistant coach Chad Larson. The two have developed a strong relationship when it comes to coaching the sport of tennis, and although Larson said that Møller did not get into the head coaching job full of knowledge about the game, they have now become a great coaching duo.

“We’re a good mix of coaches where I’m really strong with the technical part of the game and Pat’s really strong on the motivational part,” Larson said. “He started really raw and did not know much about the game, but what has improved in his coaching ability is that he has learned a lot more about the technical side of the game. … He has been a really good listener all his time as a coach and he is very humble, so it has really taken him far from where he started. ”

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