Girls basketball: Coury takes over as Stillwater coach

By STUART GROSKREUTZ – Stillwater Gazette

The combination of teaching and coaching became slightly less hectic for Gerard Coury this week after becoming the new head coach for the Stillwater girls’ basketball team.

A social studies teacher at SAHS, Coury spent the last three seasons as the head boys’ basketball coach at North St. Paul, which followed assistant coaching roles at Stillwater, Tartan and a previous stint coaching the girls at North St. Paul.

Coury and his wife, Christie, moved to Stillwater two months ago and he is looking forward to teaching and coaching in the same school.

"It’s always been a goal of mine professionally to teach, live and coach in the same community," Coury said. "I didn’t enjoy racing out of school to go practice at North St. Paul. I’d go to North sporting events to support my basketball players and now I will enjoy supporting my players here."

Coury guided the boys’ sophomore coach at Stillwater under then-coach Dennis Bloom for two seasons (2006-07 and 2007-08) before one season at Tartan and the past three as the head coach at North St. Paul, where he compiled a 35-46 record. He has also been involved with the successful North Tartan AAU program, including the past few years as head coach of the Nike Elite 17U team where he has worked with the state’s all-time leading scorer Rebekah Dahlman of Braham and current Gophers phenom Rachel Banham.

"He’s had success coaching the elite girls’ basketball team at North Tartan and that’s a big thing," Stillwater activities director Ricky Michel said. "He’s definitely experienced when it comes to coaching high school girls basketball and he has a great rapport with students in the building. To be able to have a teacher in the building as your head coach is an ideal situation. He’s thorough when it comes to preparation and obviously he’s willing to put in the time. He’s connected to the community, he lives in the community and he was a great choice for us."

Coury takes over a team that graduates the bulk of its top performers from a team that finished 10-16, including 7-11 to place sixth in the Suburban East Conference. Previous coach Deb Van Klei’s contract was not renewed earlier this spring after 14 years at the helm.

Assistant coach Steve Banick is expected to return as the varsity assistant and Coury is in the process of finding JV and sophomore coaches.

"We can build a winner and that’s our goal," Coury said. "We will play hard and we’ll defend hard. We’ll play together and our goal every year will be to give up the fewest amount of points in the conference – competing to the point of absolute exhaustion, and then we’ll find a way to compete even more. That’s always been our approach, whether at Tartan or North St. Paul, just compete. We’re looking for competitors."

Coury, who grew up in St. Paul and graduated from the University of St. Thomas, spent his first two years teaching in Faribault. He becomes the third Ponies head coach to graduate from South St. Paul, joining football coach Beau LaBore and hockey coach Phil Housley.

"I’m excited and thankful and appreciate the opportunity to be the head varsity coach in a community like this," Coury said.