He was happy at Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa. The Jaguars’ program is rolling, coming off a state Class A tournament berth last November. He liked his job as a high school English teacher at BBE and he had been head coach for only one season.
But he had second thoughts and eventually decided it was too good an offer to pass up.
“I just felt like it was a dream of mine to coach college volleyball,” Waddell said. “This is the first step to take me where I want to go.”
Lake Region State is a junior college in Devils Lake, North Dakota. It’s NJCAA Division II, which means it can offer scholarships. Waddell said he has seven full rides and takes over a program with 10 returning players.
The Lady Royals were 14-22 last season under head coach Brigitte Greywater, who left Lake Region State after eight years to become head coach at Valley City State, a four-year college in North Dakota.
Waddell said he applied for the Valley City State job, but didn’t get an interview. He did, however, receive a call from Lake Region State about its new opening.
That started the long process. When Lake Region State also offered him a teaching position, the deal was sealed.
He leaves BBE with mixed feelings.
“I feel like the volleyball team there will be really good for a lot of years,” said Waddell, who replaced Kevin Weller after being Weller’s assistant for one season. “With the four-class system (coming to Minnesota in the fall), it’s a crazy good opportunity for the team to be successful for a long time.
“It was tough to leave this particular group. They’re special. With distance learning, it’s been tough. I think I’m ready to move on and teach at a higher level. But I have no ill will for BBE at all.”
BBE was 24-10 last season, making its second straight state appearance. The Jaguars went into the state tournament unseeded and lost to No. 3 Medford 3-0 in the quarterfinals. They then beat Henning 3-2 in the consolation semifinals before losing to Greenway, of Coleraine, in the consolation championship 3-0 to finish sixth.
Many of the same athletes on the volleyball team then made it to the state girls basketball tournament in the winter.
Waddell came to BBE after coaching stops at Melrose, Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted and St. Cloud Tech. A Rockford graduate, he has his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from St. Cloud State. He said he used SCSU head volleyball coach Chad Braegelmann for advice about the Lake Region State job. Like Waddell, Braegelmann entered college coaching from the high-school ranks. He had the Huskies in the national NCAA Division II tournament last fall.
“He’s given me some good advice,” Waddell said.
The challenge for Waddell is filling out his roster. The cancellation of spring sports and distance learning with strict rules on recruiting has made it difficult for him. Devils Lake is a city of 7,500 people, but “it’s definitely in the middle of nowhere,” he said. “Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to get any kids from our area yet.”
But that’s the plan. Waddell said part of his appeal to Lake Region State officials is because of his Minnesota high school background. The school has a long history of attracting Minnesota talent in all its sports.
“It’s what I’m working on,” he said.
Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa’s state volleyball tournament appearances. (Note that Belgrade sent to state in 1984 before pairing with Brooten):
2007 (27-5 record, 0-2 at state)
2008 (31-3, 4th place at state)
2010 (28-4, 6th place at state)
2018 (27-6, 4th place at state)
2019 (24-10, 6th place at state)