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by Kaylee Noborikawa, staff writer

“I really like Division II and wanted to find a program that wants to go in a different direction,” he said.

Vorderbruegge replaces former Head Coach Kelly Wells, who left HPU for a head coaching job at Pikeville College in Kentucky.

Prior to coaching at HPU, Vorderbruegge coached for six years at Northwest Missouri State University, where he was associate head coach for the past two seasons.

Last year, the Bearcats were 22-10 overall and reached the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Division II tournament. During his time at Northwest Missouri State, Vorderbruegge helped the team average 25 wins a season and reach the Elite Eight twice.

“ My goal is to take the success we had at Northwest Missouri State, and help HPU return to national prominence,” he said.

He has also coached at the high school level for 13 years in Kansas. Vorderbruegge coached at West Elk High School, Hoisington High School, and Wichita Northwest High School, where he led the Grizzlies to an 18-7 season and a fourth-place finish in the Kansas 6A state championships.

When Vorderbruegge first laid eyes on his new basketball team, “my first impression was that it was so new for all of us,” he said. “There was a core of six guys coming back, nine new players, two returning coaches, and three new coaches. We were all evaluating each other.”

Since this is his first year coaching at HPU, Vorderbruegge is not familiar with the teams in the PacWest conference and is not sure what to expect.

“ We have a lot to focus on as a team,” said Vorderbruegge. “My biggest expectation is that we can continue to get better. If we do that then the wins will take care of themselves.”

Vorderbruegge believes that “the aspect of team is your foundation,” which may be difficult this year due to the mixture of returning and new players. To help the team bond, Vorderbruegge created several mandatory team field trips, including hiking up Diamond Head and Koko Head Crater and having a picnic at Kapi‘olani Park. He compared the hike at Diamond Head to their upcoming season, making several stops along the way but finishing at the top.

Vorderbruegge, an All-American in track and field, graduated from Bethany College in West Virginia with an undergraduate degree in social science and secondary education. He later graduated from Wichita State University with a master’s degree in secondary education. Besides coaching basketball, Vorderbruegge has another full-time job also. He is a husband and father of three children.

When asked how he liked living in Hawai‘i, Vorderbruegge said, “I’m not sure if I’m ever going to leave.” He compared the food, music, and diversity of Hawai‘i to Missouri’s stating that “everything’s just opposite.”

Luckily for Vorderbruegge, Hawai‘i is the perfect state for his hobbies, which include running and playing golf.

In Missouri, Vorderbruegge was used to running on flat, paved streets, but he has taken advantage of the beautiful scenery Hawai‘i has to offer by regularly hiking up trails such as Hawai‘i Loa Ridge and Kuliouou, which overlook Waimanalo and the eastern side of the island. And here in the islands, of course, you can golf all year round.

 

 

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