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Women’s College Basketball: Brodeen takes over as Raiders head coach

Krystal Brodeen moves from Vermilion to Central Lakes to take over the Raiders women's basketball program.

Brodeen_Krystal.JPG
Krystal Brodeen

The two-sentence announcement on the Central Lakes College women’s basketball website proclaimed the cancellation of the 2021-2022 season, but also promised a commitment to women’s basketball and success next year and the years to come.

The December hiring of new head coach Krystal Brodeen could be a step toward that goal.

Raiders women’s basketball season canceled for 2021-22

Brodeen’s most recent position was as the Vermilion Community College volleyball coach, where she took a program that was about to be canceled with just eight players and produced the program’s first playoff appearance in 20 years. Before that Brodeen was the head coach of both the volleyball and basketball programs from 2017-19.

"I like to make the environment fun because that is what sports should be,” Brodeen said. “Playing the game at the next level is super fun and a privilege. I like to bring girls in from all over and go out there and have fun.”

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Brodeen is from Cook, Minnesota and was part of the inaugural season of the North Woods High School Grizzlies. She played four varsity seasons of volleyball and basketball. After graduation, she attended Vermilion Community College and played volleyball and basketball. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Bemidji State University in 2016 and began her collegiate coaching career in the fall of 2017 at Vermilion.


"I am going to get better. As a coach the day when I think I know it all is when I become a bad coach. So I am just trying to soak in as much as I can and support them at their games."

— Krystal Brodeen


In her inaugural season, she won one basketball game and no volleyball games with six girls on her volleyball team and seven players on the basketball team.

College Athletics: Winter sports canceled at CLC

After the 2019 season, Brodeen pursued her Master’s degree from Concordia in coaching and athletic administration with an undergrad in business, but life threw her a curve that also gave her a clear vision of her career path.

"The pandemic hit and I was out of a job and living with my family and helping at my sister's restaurant and I took that as my sign to go 110% into coaching,” Brodeen said. “Before it was only a part-time gig. So I doubled up on my classes and joined a bunch of organizations doing camps and dove right in which led me back to Vermilion and then to Central Lakes and I couldn't be more excited to be here where the community and the college value athletics. That was the major pull."

Brodeen also appreciated the rest of the CLC coaching staff and their efforts to make her feel part of the Raider family.

College Volleyball: Raiders pick up sweep against Vermilion

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"I have been on three tours of the campus already,” Brodeen said. “At Vermilion I did pretty much everything for myself. I was the activities director for my own sport and did the recruiting, the touring and all of the paperwork. I taped the ankles and I drove the van. So here at CLC people are lining up to take things off my plate and they want me to just recruit and coach and I have been super thankful for that."

With CLC’s program shut down this season, Brodeen is focused on recruiting and school visits and introducing herself to current Raider athletes.

Brodeen’s goal is to build a strong base of local players and blend in players from out of the area. She said the local community support has been strong and that women’s basketball is healthy in the Brainerd lakes area.

College Volleyball: Raiders rally to advance to finals

"It is a lot easier to recruit to central Minnesota compared to Ely,” she said. “Coming from a place where we had a Dairy Queen and a Subway I am now two hours from anywhere. Now when I find a girl from a smaller school in Minnesota I don't have to worry about her being six hours away and mom and dad can still come and watch.

“From my experience at Vermilion, I loved that I played with women that I had played against in high school, but also playing with women where I had never heard of their city or high school so the different styles were eye-opening and college basketball is all about new experiences.”

While CLC’s Jane Peterson has set the gold standard with her volleyball program, Brodeen hopes to mimic that of Northland Community College basketball coach Shannon Nelson, who has a national title and two runner-up finishes in her 10 seasons at Northland.

Women’s College Basketball: Raiders fall to Northland to finish the season

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“What Shannon has done at Northland that has made her so successful is that she has a well-balanced team,” Brodeen said. “She always has an older and a younger post player so one is learning from the other. They are always well-balanced with good point guards and a presence in the post. A lot of other teams in our conference are guard-heavy. I am focusing on women who like to play the post. It is a lost art.”

Brodeen is joining a veteran coaching staff at CLC and she plans on being a sponge and soaking up the knowledge they have.

One thing she remembered after both Raiders activities director and head men’s basketball coach Jim Russell and Peterson reached out to her was the statement, "You are who you surround yourself with."

“So I am surrounding myself with coaches like Coach Rus (Russell) and Jane (Peterson),” Brodeen added. “I am going to get better. As a coach the day when I think I know it all is when I become a bad coach. So I am just trying to soak in as much as I can and support them at their games.”

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