Volleyball: Brainerd assistant Eckman honored
Brainerd Warriors assistant coach Nate Eckman won state assistant coach of the year for the 2019 season.
Head coach Rick Kuehlwein was informed of Eckman’s award Tuesday, April 21.
“I am very honored to be selected,” Eckman said. “I looked at the previous coaches who were listed there and it’s just an honor to be mentioned there and I've learned a great deal from them so it’s a great honor.
“I definitely want to thank a few people, my wife, the coaches and staff and the supportive parents we have had throughout the years.”
Eckman’s daughter Avery is a senior at Brainerd High School and is committed to playing volleyball at the University of Minnesota-Duluth next fall.
Avery tallied 344 kills, 278 digs, 59 blocks and 39 ace serves on 90% serving in her senior season. She also won Dispatch player of the year.
Eckman said at times it was tricky coaching his daughter, but he loved the unique perspective it gave him.
“Avery is a good kid and a good player,” Eckman said. “It was really neat to have that perspective as a dad and a coach. I’m very thankful I got to have that.”
The support of his family and community is what Eckman loves about coaching at Brainerd. He plans to stick around and coach next year despite Avery being off at college.
“I will definitely be back,” Eckman said. “We are excited about the opportunity Avery has up at UMD. She’s a freshman going into a very good program, and hopefully our schedule is a little different than theirs. Thankfully it’s pretty close to home.”
Eckman thinks coaching besides Kuehlwein makes him look better, too.
“He’s got a ton of wisdom, but has a real causal way of giving you input and tips and letting you go and coach,” Eckman said. “It’s been really amazing the last few years to sit back and learn from that style.”