August 16, 2013

Plainswomen to experience the Huss-tle in 2013-2014

Dave Huss (left) and Bobby Ratteree (right)  

Dave Huss (left) and Bobby Ratteree (right) will provide new leadership to the women’s basketball program at Northeastern Junior College this year. After seven years as an assistant, Huss takes the reigns of a program undergoing some major changes. (Courtesy Photo)

By Barbara Baker

STERLING, CO--A new era begins in women’s basketball at Northeastern Junior College with the 2013-2014 season. Seasoned, long-time coach Darrel Parker, who coached at both Sterling High School and Northeastern Junior College (NJC) for a combined 37 years, has retired. His former assistant for the last seven years, Dave Huss, steps up to take the head coaching duties and has a plan of his own he wants to put in place. This all happens at a time when the college’s athletic department is doing a bit of a regroup. For the first time in Northeastern’s history, the basketball and volleyball coaches on campus will be dedicating all of their time to the sport they lead. As these athletic positions become full-time, these individuals will be coaching, recruiting, overseeing student retention, graduation rates, and will be responsible for fundraising. In past years, a head coach at NJC often also held another job on campus that always required equal time. The college hopes that by letting a head coach really focus on his or her sport, the outcome will be more consistent and allow programs at Northeastern to get back to where they once were.

Huss, who has also been a manager in the Bank of Colorado Event Center for the past seven years—opening the building early, closing the building late, and running tournaments on weekends—did all of this at the same time he was fulfilling the duties as an assistant coach. He looks forward to the change. “Northeastern has made a significant commitment to women’s basketball by modifying this coaching position to full time, but the expectations have grown as well,” he said. And, he’s ready for the challenge. He’s already recruited a new assistant coach in Bobby Ratterree and the two of them are working on strategy, looking forward to the arrival of a roster of players that includes 12 new freshmen—all players that Huss and his manager, Camion Horton recruited to the program this last year. “We’ve added some significant height and depth to this year’s team,” Huss notes. “We are going to be a young team,” Huss admits, but rationalizes that many of the other teams in the National Junior College Athletic Association’s Region IX will also be young.

Huss says that Northeastern has three players this season who are definitely Division I material—good players, good role models, good students. The three returning sophomores will be asked to provide some significant leadership this year. Tiffany Mines, a 5’7” guard from Farson, Wyoming is expected to step up big. “She was probably our best player last year, even though she was a walk on,” Huss says, “she’s a good, vocal leader and an overall great kid.” Other returning players joining Mines will be Jordan Bishop, a 5’4”, left-handed guard from Doherty High School in Colorado Springs. She was a starter in about one-third of last year’s games. Carle Cortez-Walser, a 5’8” guard from Merino returns this year as a strong role player and a master of the three point shot.

This year’s wildcard may be Charmayne Jordan a 5’10” sophomore guard from Fayetteville, GA who is transferring into Northeastern sight unseen. She comes from Central Georgia Technical Junior College, pushed here by a friend who played at NJC who says this is the better program for her to be in. Huss says she has some good talent and he’s excited to see her on the court. 

Among the new freshmen coming on campus will be Meg Pritchard, a 5’11” guard from Adelaide, South Australia; Janae Bailey, a 5’11” forward from Baltimore, MD; Arianne Sheka, a 5’10” forward from Ft. Defiance, AZ; Angie Smith, a 6’ forward from Widefield High School in Colorado; and Brooke Blair, a 5’8” guard from New Zealand. Huss has definitely made it a point to add height this year. “I recruited my tail off this last year,” he laughs.

“Our style of play this year will be a lot more unpredictable,” says Huss. “I’ll take some bits and pieces and build off of them to have more structure using sets, out of bound plays, and running different zones. We have a brutal schedule coming up in November and we’re going to do some things differently in hopes that we surprise some of our opponents.”  Ratterree brings a knack for some offensive play that is quite different than what NJC has seen for a few years and Huss says they will incorporate this into their strategy.

Huss, originally from Coleridge Nebraska, came to Northeastern having been a high school girls coach in Kansas, an assistant men’s coach at the community college in Marshalltown, Iowa and an assistant coach at North Dakota State College of Science. He’s very excited at the opportunity to prove himself now as a head coach. “I’ve grown to really love Northeastern and the people who live in this area and support our programs and I hope to do well by them and the students who come here to play and study,” Huss said, adding “I have big shoes to fill.”

Ratterree, originally from Falcon, CO, has a great deal to offer the Northeastern women’s program. He played NAIA basketball at Northwestern Iowa (Orange City) and while attending the University of Northern Colorado, was a practice player and an equipment manager there. In the past he has coached high school boys’ teams for three years and has one year of junior college coaching experience as an assistant coach at Feather River College California.

Ratterree is no stranger to Northeastern athletics. His sister Caroline played volleyball at NJC in 2007-2009 and he was on campus many times to watch her play. He played in, and won a three on three basketball tournament at NJC not all that many years ago. “Bobby will bring some youth, energy and playing experience to the program. He’s way smarter with a Smart phone and a computer than I am so I will look to him for that kind of help in communicating with players, the campus and the community,” Huss said.  Caroline is now working for Athletes in Action out of Radford University & Virginia Tech.  She went from NJC on to Radford University in Virginia where she played volleyball and ran track and completed her bachelor’s degree in art. 

Ratterree, who will also be an assistant residence hall director, relocated to Sterling with his wife Lara, who will be teaching ESL at Ayres Elementary School.  He has seen the potential for the athletic programs at Northeastern. “I’m super excited about returning to coaching and I’m so happy to be doing it here now, with Huss,” he said.