Erickson led the Trappers to a 22-11 record and a Region IX tournament semifinal appearance while serving as the team’s interim head coach this past winter. While the interim label had no bearing on the team’s success during the season, Erickson learned that wasn’t the case when it came to the recruiting trail.
“We lost a couple because of that,” Erickson said of the interim label, which vanished on Monday when the Trappers announced they were keeping Erickson on staff as the basketball program’s official head coach. “They wanted to decide a little bit earlier and not wait and as a result they signed elsewhere.”
By law, Northwest College was required to advertise the head coaching position, meaning Erickson had to go through the hiring process anew, the same as any other applicant. Now, with the interim label gone, he has been able to make phone calls and assure recruits that he will be on the sidelines next season. Cabre Gymnasium could be a flurry of activity the next couple of weeks as a result.
“The ones that we have coming in were willing to wait and didn’t need to make a decision as quickly and we’re excited about them,” said Erickson. “We were able to keep them interested and it worked out well for them. We’ll be all right.”
In the hours since Northwest College made its announcement that Erickson would remain on staff as the team’s head coach, the Trappers have already received one letter of intent. The Trappers’ coach noted that two other recruits had contacted him by telephone, indicating they were committing as well now that his place on the sideline was assured. Potential recruits are scheduled to visit campus each of the next two weekends.
In addition to the already tangible recruiting boost that comes from having the interim label gone, Erickson noted the subtle title change has also provided him some personal peace of mind.
“It’s a lot of comfort,” Erickson said. “This last year was great for me, but now we know that I can settle down in the community with my family a little more, look for a house, those sorts of things. There’s some things in the interim role where you’re not knowing if you’ll be here or not, so you’re not wanting to implement some ideas.”
Erickson also sees himself doing a lot more with the booster club in the year ahead.
“This past year was about coaching — that was the main priority,” Erickson said. “Now I want to try and step up and do a little more with the booster club and be more active in that aspect of things.”
Throughout the process, Erickson noted that he’s felt the support of his players.
“I met with them after the season was over and asked them if they wanted to come back next season, because you never know for sure what their plans are or if they want you back,” Erickson said. “Every one of them that was able to come back and play next season said they wanted to. It’s been a difficult time with these guys knowing they could have someone else, that question mark of who is going to be the coach. They fought through the entire process. During my coaching demonstration, they had tons of energy and excitement. I could feel the support.”