Boys' basketball: Brandon Kishpaugh returns to Colton as head coach
Coaching changes at any level are never easy.
New systems have to be installed, new coaching styles and practice techniques implemented, player-coach chemistry has to be rebuilt, and many other challenges arise when changes come to a program's coaching staff.
Despite the Colton High School boys' basketball program being led by three different coaches in the past three seasons, the Vikings have still performed at high levels.
Brandon Kishpaugh hopes to continue that success as he makes his return.
Kishpaugh, a familiar face to those that follow Colton athletics, has been selected to lead the Vikings this season after Greg Adams chose to officially retire from his duties as boys' basketball coach and athletic director at the end of the last academic year.
Kishpaugh was first hired as head coach in 2010 and coached for four seasons with a record of 22-71 overall before taking a year off due to the availability of his job. In the 2014-2015 season, coach Mike Mazerluft took over and led the Vikings to an 18-9 season, which earned the team its first playoff appearance in 21 seasons.
But Mazerluft left after that season and Kishpaugh was back. That year, he led the team – which boasted all-stars Harper James, Malik Knott, Anthony Basargin, and Kyver Raasch – to a sixth-place finish after going 23-6 overall and tying Blanchet Catholic with an 11-1 league record, before falling in the first round to Horizon Christian 60-57.
At that point, things were looking up for the boys' basketball program: they had made the playoffs two years in a row after a 21-season drought and the incoming athletic talent was strong. But coaching changes came again as Kishpaugh was "unable to coach due to personal reasons" for the 2016-2017 season, according to an email message.
Greg Adams then took over and kept the success going, leading the Viks to a 15-9 season and another playoff appearance, marking three years in a row of success for Colton.
And while Adams originally committed three years to the program, he ended up deciding that he wanted his retirement to be an actual retirement, and announced his resignation at the end of the academic year.
That put the coaching position up for grabs for the fourth year in a row, which prompted Kishpaugh to make his move and claim it once again.
"…Last year, I was unable to coach due to personal reasons, and I am thankful that we had two really good coaches step up and be willing to coach," Kishpaugh said in an email, "and ultimately, Greg [Adams] did a great job leading the guys to what I knew was going to be a successful year."
"And here we are after Greg chose to retire and spend more time with his family, I am lucky enough to be able to come back and continue working with a great group of kids in Colton and [they], along with the community, have always believed in me and my philosophy of coaching."
Kishpaugh said he plans to stick around with the basketball program for al long as his career and family life allows. He said he doesn't know if that will be for three years or ten, but he doesn't have aspirations of coaching at bigger programs, be it at a high school or college.
"My long-term vision is to continue the high level of success we have had; I know at a small school like Colton, there will be highs and lows in terms of turnout and talent, however, I believe we have built a solid foundation that allows for the lows to be few and far between and our program to always be competitive," Kishpaugh said.
"I like working with the athletes in Colton and seeing them develop over time; it's been very rewarding for me to see where the program started when I got here, and [how] over the last few years we've come to be a very competitive and fun to watch team," he said.
Kishpaugh was born and raised in Estacada, where he graduated from high school before attending Clackamas Community College. He played basketball there under Clif Wegner before moving on to the University of Idaho, and then coming back to finish his degree at Portland State University.
Kishpaugh began his coaching career in Estacada where he coached a few middle school AAU teams, and as a varsity assistant at the high school before taking over at Colton.
He currently works for Nike in in the "product creation world," where he focuses on socks and equipment.
When he was away from coaching in Colton last season, he said he participated in some coaching to help develop individual skill development work with kids from all over, and last spring he coached a local AAU team that included Colton alums Sam Ryan and Logan Wallaert.
Kishpaugh said his favorite thing about coaching is pushing kids beyond what they previously thought they were capable of and seeing their progression over time, and that's what has kept him in Colton over the years.
"When I took over the program, it was in one of those lows that happens in a small town, and it just happened to align when our league was without question the best in 3A," he said. "My first year, our league finished 1, 2, 3 at state and the rest of the league was really tough as well."
"But the kids continued to work hard through a lot of tough nights, and bought into the long-term vision I had for the program and, ultimately, it has paid off, and we've seen that over the last few years, and being able to be a part of that has been extremely satisfying and made those first few seasons well worth it."
Kishpaugh said he expects a lot out of his players in terms of their attitudes and effort.
"I spend a lot of time working with the guys … so I like to think I build a level of rapport with [them] that they know I am going to work just as hard for them as I ask them to do for me and the team," he said. "I know there have been a number of kids over the last few years, that if I hadn't built that level of relationship with them, they probably would have hated me because I pushed them so hard, but those have been the kids that have been the most successful and gone on to not only have great basketball careers at Colton, but in the classroom and, hopefully, beyond."
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