BY MICHAEL SMITH
The Athletics Department named a new head football coach at a Friday press conference in Alex Nemzek Hall.
Steve Laqua, 32, has become the 17th head football coach in MSUM history and the fifth since 2004.
Prior to accepting the MSUM coaching gig, Laqua spent four years as the head coach of Fargo Shanley high school. In his final two seasons, he led the Deacons to back-to-back North Dakota Class 2A state championships.
â€œThis has been the most inclusive search process that I have been a part of, excluding the president search, since Iâ€™ve been here. We have literally had hundreds on people involved in this search,â€ Athletics Director Doug Peters said. â€œWhen I look at coach Laqua, I see some characteristics, I see some skills and some attributes that I find in our most successful coaches.â€
Laqua takes over a football team that finished last season with a 2-9 record under interim head coach Joel Beard.
â€œI will tell you, Iâ€™m absolutely pumped to be standing here with the opportunity to lead this program,â€ Laqua said. â€œI am extremely confident and excited about the direction the university is going in. I am unbelievably confident and thrilled about where we are going and the things we are going to achieve.â€
Laqua will have a constant reminder of his days at Shanley as all-state quarterback Myles Montplaisir has verbally committed to MSUM.
Montplaisir was the quarterback during the Deaconsâ€™ championship runs and was named 2010 Class 2A East Senior Athlete of the Year.
The Dragons and Laqua are looking to add an additional 20 to 25 new players into the mix for next season.
â€œPrimarily we will be in the high school ranks,â€ Laqua said. â€œGetting the kids in that are great-character kids, that are going to work hard and develop into the players and the men we want them to be.â€
There is no word yet on who will be brought in to form the staff around Laqua but the coach plans to look locally and doesnâ€™t envision it being a long process.
â€œI think as an athletic department, as a whole, we understand how important the success of football is to the entire athletic department,â€ Peters said. â€œEveryone within the department is very passionate about making sure we have the right person to lead our football program.â€
Before rising to prominence at Shanley, Laqua played football at NDSU from 1997-2000 and had two stints coaching with the club starting as a graduate assistant in 2002. He also coached at St. Olaf College and Minnesota-Crookston.
The Dragons have a combined record of 4-18 over the last two seasons and look to turn it around under the new coach.
â€œWe need to show progress,â€ Laqua said. â€œPart of a successful football program is a multi-faceted approach. We need to show progress in the classroom … we need to show progress on the football field.â€
Despite his enthusiasm about joining the MSUM staff, Laqua thought twice about leaving his post at Shanley.
â€œAnytime you get deeply investing in helping athletes, or anybody for that matter, achieve their goals, itâ€™s tough to walk away from,â€ Laqua said.
See coach Laqua and Womenâ€™s basketball coach Karla Nelson at â€œCoffee with Karlaâ€ Feb. 5 at Moxie Java in Moorhead. The event is a social hour where fans and supporters can come to chat with the coaches about dragons athletics.
To read more from this writer, view his blog at smithmi.blogspot.com