New girls basketball coach at Century named
By Donny Henn
The Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN
Chris Stenzel will become a high school head coach for the first time when he takes over the Century girls basketball program next season, but that hardly means he's new to girls basketball in Rochester.
The 41-year-old Stenzel was named Tuesday as the third head varsity girls basketball coach in the school's 13-year history, following Tim Strain and Aaron Berg. Berg resigned at the end of the season to spend more time with his family.
"I've always wanted to be a high school head coach, ever since I was in high school," said Stenzel, who has coached in Rochester at other levels for 19 years. "This is a great and unique opportunity at Century."
Stenzel coached for 13 years in the Mayo High School program, at the junior high, B squad and varsity assistant levels. He was the assistant coach to current head coach Angie Meister for his last two years, before moving on to Rochester Community and Technical College in 2005 where he became the assistant to women's basketball coach Steve Hucke.
Stenzel coached at RCTC the last five years, where his duties were chiefly as defensive coach and as Hucke's primary scout and recruiter. He helped build the Yellowjackets' 2009 national championship team.
"Leaving the RCTC program was really the toughest part of this decision," Stenzel said. "I have a lot of pride in that program, and I'll miss working with the players whom I recruited to come there."
Stenzel is a teacher at Rochester Off-Campus Charter School, where he has taught for 12 years. He and his wife, Jackie, have no children. Stenzel considers his wife a partner in his coaching career.
"At the end of every basketball season I always ask Jackie if she minds if I coach again the next year," he said. "I think it's important that I have her support; it's a unique thing that she puts up with all my time away."
Stenzel graduated from Freeborn High School, northwest of Albert Lea, in 1986. He played two years of football at RCTC and graduated later from Southwest State University in Marshall.
He said his basketball teams at every level have been high-scoring, and he likes an uptempo style if his personnel permits. "We'll press all the time; good defensive pressure can create offense," he said.
Stenzel inherits a Century program that has become competitive in the Big Nine Conference in recent years. The Panthers had their first winning seasons in 2005-06 and 2006-07, under Berg's guidance, and shared the conference crown with Owatonna in 2007.
Century finished 15-11 last season, with a 38-35 loss to Mayo in the first round of the Section 1AAAA playoffs.
Stenzel said that the remaining coaches in the Century girls basketball program, including varsity assistant Dan Parker, B squad coach Libby Cook, and C squad coach Ryan Carpenter, will be interviewed to gauge their interest in returning to the program.