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Jerry Hautala surrenders girls basketball position

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River Falls, 54022

River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

Jerry Hautala has resigned from the position of head girls basketball coach at Hudson High School and former coach Dave Johnson wants the job back.

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Hautala, the girls junior varsity coach at Hudson for three years previously, stepped in to guide the Raiders last season after Johnson left to coach the women's team at Augsburg College in Minneapolis.

The Raider girls had a 17-5 overall record, under Hautala. They went 9-3 in the Big Rivers Conference, finishing in a second-place tie with Chippewa Falls. Their season ended when Chippewa Falls defeated them 61-56 in the regional finals of the WIAA tournament.

Hautala said he decided to resign from coaching when Johnson announced in March that he wouldn't be returning for another season at Augsburg.

"I've always considered that Dave's job. The only way he could get back in would be if I resigned. That was probably my prime reason, because Dave is a real good friend of mine," Hautala told the Star-Observer.

Hautala came to Hudson at Johnson's suggestion in 1998 after the two became friends while coaching a group of Wisconsin all-stars at the Junior Olympics.

Hautala was an assistant women's coach at UW-Stout for one season before joining Johnson as an assistant with the Hudson girls program.

Before coming to Hudson, Hautala compiled a 211-125 record as a head girls basketball coach at high schools in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Johnson had a 323-116 overall record in 19 seasons as head coach of the Hudson girls. His Raider teams won the Division 1 state championship in 1998 and 2002, finished as state runner-up in 2000, and reached the semi-finals of the state tournament in 1996, 1997 and 2003.

His teams won nine conference championships (two Middle Border, seven Big Rivers). They were Big Rivers champions six seasons in a row from 1994-95 to 1999-2000.

Hautala said another reason he quit coaching is that he recently opened a second Mattress Galaxy store in Woodbury. He also has a Mattress Galaxy store in the strip mall on Coulee Road next to Applebee's restaurant in Hudson.

He was concerned about not having enough time to give coaching his full attention, Hautala said, but nevertheless would have returned for another season if Johnson hadn't left Augsburg.

"If Dave Johnson had not resigned from Augsburg, I would still be the coach. And that's a fact," he said.

He said some people wrongly assume that he resigned because his stepdaughter, Jess Vadnais, will graduate from high school this spring. Vadnais, an all-conference first team point guard, will play for Gustavus Adolphus College at St. Peter, Minn., next winter.

"I think a lot of people thought I was coaching just for Jess, and that was not true," Hautala said.

He said he enjoyed his year as Raiders head coach. He appreciated the effort the players gave and the support of high school Athletic Director Larry Ofstedal, he said.

"I'm disappointed that we didn't get to Madison. I'm not disappointed in the season by any means," he said.

Johnson's success in leading the Hudson girls program has raised the community's expectations, he said.

"The ceiling is real high because he's been so successful over the years," Hautala said. "I guess success in Hudson is if you get to (the state tournament at) Madison."

He added, "I'm hoping that Dave gets the job, because I think that would continue the program where it is."

The school district has run ads in recent editions of the Star-Observer seeking new head and assistant girls basketball coaches, as well as new head and assistant girls volleyball coaches.

Friday was the deadline for applications. School administrators plan to make their coaching selections by mid-May.

The coaching positions were first offered to teachers and then advertised to the public.

Ofstedal said he didn't know how many applications for head girls basketball coach the district received, but guessed it wasn't many.

Johnson acknowledged having applied for his former position.

"Coaching is definitely in my blood. It's something that probably will never leave me," he said. "I know I would be a terrible fan. I could never sit and watch. That's too tough to do."

Johnson said he left Augsburg after a 5-20 season because he didn't like being away from Hudson.

"I'm not sure I'm a Minneapolis type of guy. I'm used to space and being out here," said the Hudson native. He also cited family reasons for wanting to remain close to home.

Sarah Pollock, a 2003 graduate of UW-River Falls, served as the Raider girls basketball junior varsity coach last season.

Ofstedal said the coaching positions of non-teachers are routinely offered to teachers at the completion of each season. He said he didn't know if Pollock has re-applied for the JV position because the applications went to District Personnel Director Bob Benoy.

The Raiders' volleyball team posted a 1-15 record under first-year head coach Christal Osheim in 2003. Osheim, who resides in Glenwood City, also is a non-teacher.

Amy Mueller, last year's assistant volleyball coach, is a faculty member, Ofstedal said, but didn't want to come back for another season.

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