Tri-City United has new head coaches for both girls and boys basketball, but they’re not new to TCU.
Don Marcussen is stepping up from a year as TCU girls junior high coach to girls varsity head coach. Kyle Johnson, meanwhile, is moving up from a year as TCU boys B-squad coach to boys varsity head coach.
This is not the first time Marcussen and Johnson have been head basketball coaches.
TCU Activities Director Chad Johnson said Johnson and Marcussen “will be great leaders for the Titan basketball programs. They were easy choices. Both come with varsity coaching experience, and both are familiar with the TCU program. They understand as former head coaches your teams change consistently based on who is on the court. You need to be able to change and adjust and both realize that as head coaches.”
He continued, “It’s just nice to be familiar with the kids. Coaches with deeper connections generally have better success. Its always tough as a new coach — you first need to develop a bond. They both have knowledge of our kids and our program. I don’t want them to necessarily do what was done in the past. Change is good and will help our kids.”
Marcussen, 55, brings 32 years experience coaching basketball. He coached both boys and girls at all levels from third-grade to varsity. He has coached in Indiana, South Dakota and both Montgomery and Le Sueur-Henderson.
Kyle Johnson, 36, coached in several different capacities over the past 15 years. He coached fall league for Prior Lake and coached ninth-boys basketball and football for Prior Lake for two years. He taught in Prior Lake one year and New Prague one year. Next he took a teaching job in Big Lake. He taught 10 years in Big Lake where he coached ninth-grade basketball and 10th-grade basketball for five years. In his last five years in Big Lake he served as the head boys basketball coach. He also coached football for eight years in Big Lake at different capacities, ninth-grade, 10th-grade, JV, as well as varsity assistant.
“Don has a great resume in coaching,” Chad Johnson said. “So very little will surprise him. He has probably already seen it and done it before. As for Kyle, he is a younger generation coach and brings in some fresh ideas. I hope they will compliment each other’s programs. I am very happy to have these guys leading our programs. These are both great additions to TCU.”
Marcussen said his strength as a coach is “my ability to get a team prepared to compete each game. I have been fortunate enough to be able to coach and play in some big games during my years as both a player and coach and have learned a lot on how to deal with the excitement, stress, and expectations that go with those games. I also love to study the game and competing with other coaches.”
Johnson said he “believes my strengths are my passion for teaching the game, my background knowledge and experience, my philosophy of coaching, my work ethic, my ability to set a good example for our young men, but more importantly I do truly care about all of our players in our program! I do want the very best for each player and provide them with a positive basketball experience!
“I bring 15 years of coaching boys basketball, five years as a head coach. I was able to help create a positive basketball culture and build a respected program at Big Lake. I was fortunate to coach some very talented groups. In my third year as head coach at Big Lake, our team was fortunate to win 20 games and earn a berth to the state tournament for the first time in school history! In my fifth year we were able to make it to the section final, but came up 3 points short. More importantly, a lot of memories and connections have been made over my years of coaching!”
Why take the job?
Taking the job at TCU gives Marcussen a chance to work with his granddaughter who played on the seventh-grade team last year. He was approached about his possible interest in helping out as head coach when Eric Specht stepped down.
Marcussen and his wife, Doreen, have three daughters: Emily 32; Erica 30; and Olivia, 27.
Besides coaching, Marcussen is a business/computer teacher at LS-H. “Under 10 years now till I retire, so I have probably reached my career goals already.”
Johnson came to TCU because of family reasons and jumped at the opportunity to be the boys head coach. Johnson and his wife Lindsay Johnson of 9 years have three children, Adeline, 6; Lucas, 4; and Jacob, 15 months.
“My family and I moved down here to be close to our families, as I grew up in Prior Lake and my wife in Jordan,” Johnson said. “We saw the opportunity to get back close to home. My wife accepted a fourth-grade teaching position at Jordan Elementary, and I accepted a PE (physical education) and DAPE (Developmental Adapted Physical Education) teaching position at Lonsdale Elementary. I was fortunate to serve on the boys basketball staff at TCU last season. The position became available, and I was obviously interested.
“I have many reasons for wanting and taking the head TCU boys basketball coaching position. I have a passion for coaching basketball, working with student athletes, making connections with our student athletes, being a role model for them, and teaching our young men the game of basketball, but also teaching life lessons. Sports are a great vehicle for teaching many things, such as hard work, teamwork, sacrifice, responsibility, accepting roles, commitment and so much more! I thoroughly enjoy the process and my goal is to create a strong, respected, competitive program!”
Marcussen started playing basketball in third grade and played all through High School. He graduated from Ada High School in 1983. He graduated from Minnesota State University-Moorhead in 1988 with a major in business education.
Johnson grew up in Prior Lake and lettered in basketball, baseball and football as a junior and senior. He was captain of football and basketball his senior year. He was also all-conference his senior year in basketball and honorable mention his junior year. He was conference honorable mention in football his senior year.
He graduated from Prior Lake High School. He earned an associate degree at Rochester Community College and then attended Winona State where he graduated with a teaching degree in K-12 Physical Education and Pre K-12 Adapted Physical Education. In 2017 he completed his masters degree in teaching.
Marcussen said his goals for the team are “hard to say since I have not had a chance to work with these girls much yet. We will continue to play hard and be competitive each night.”
Practices begin in November and the Titan girls open up with Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial on Nov. 19.
“We are off to a great start with some summer conditioning in June, and then we get into the gym in July for about a month to work on some offense/defense philosophy,” Marcussen said. “The girls have been great at attending the conditioning, so I know they are hungry and excited.”
Johnson said, “My goals for the team and program in our first year is to create a strong basketball culture, establish our offensive and defensive system, create high expectations and work ethic, create competitive teams at each level, and create a positive environment and experience for our athletes. These are just a few of the goals that I have for our TCU program!
“I am very honored and humbled to be in the position of head boys basketball coach at TCU. I take my role very seriously and I have very high expectations for our program and for myself! I look forward to the season! Titan pride!”