North Zulch ISD recently welcomed Michael Stenseth to assume the role of women’s basketball coach for the Bulldogs, who will bring a storied past and ample experience to the position.
Stenseth retired two years ago after coaching Rudder for five seasons. His record coaching women’s teams currently sits at 486-206. His overall record is 599-327, meaning the long wait for win number 600 will end this year.
“People would always ask me if I missed coaching,” said Stenseth. “I knew I missed the joy of putting together a team and I knew I missed the kids. So I was excited when this opportunity presented itself.”
In total, Stenseth coached for 35 seasons. He reached the Regional tournament twice with Valley Mills, took Ingleside to Regionals in his second season with the team and reached the state tournament with Rudder. This was the only women’s team from Bryan to ever qualify for state. In 2016, Coach Stenseth won the Dean Weiss 5A Outstanding Girls Coach of the Year Award.
Upon retirement, Stenseth was looking forward to spending time with his son and grandson. However, Stenseth’s son, who is in the Air Force, had to relocate to Japan. When he saw the opening at North Zulch, he submitted his name for consideration. He now reenters the 2A game, which is what he saw at Valley Mills. Rudder was 4A and 5A under Stenseth.
“For me, it is really all the same,” said Stenseth. “You are going to have great talent and great coaches in the small schools. It is really just less names you need to keep up with.”
Stenseth likens his coaching style to former Madisonville men’s basketball coach and member of the Texas Basketball Hall of Fame Johnny Carter. Carter became famous for his high paced style and full court press with Kennard in the 1960s.
“I like an up-beat tempo, it makes for a more exciting game and gives more kids an opportunity to participate,” said Stenseth. “Being a good defensive team and controlling tempo are important to finding success at the playoff level.”
Above all, the new coach is ready to take advantage of the talent he has to work with and will build precise game plans from there. He voiced his desire to shoot the three ball, which will be something to watch for in North Zulch next season.
With his broad ties to the local coaching world, Stenseth got an opportunity to watch a lot of games in the Bulldogs’ District last season. North Zulch was a young team in 2017, and most players will return with a year of Varsity experience under their belts.
Last year was an up and down year for the Bulldogs, who missed the playoffs with a loss in the play-in game to Iola. Stenseth has found bountiful success for programs in the past and will now look to do the same for North Zulch late in his career.