When Pat Garvin played basketball at Bethany Lutheran, he was the part of the first team in the four-year era to win the conference championship.
Now returning as the head coach, the program is a contender for the national tournament each season.
“I could not be more excited,” Garvin said. “I’m pumped to be back, with the great administration, faculty, staff, alums. Bethany is a special place for me; it made me who I am today.”
Garvin’s hiring was announced Monday. Garvin, 29, has been a full-time assistant at Minnesota State since 2017. He coached one season at Bethany and another at Minnesota State before getting an assistant job at Benedictine University, an NAIA program at Mesa, Arizona.
The Jackson native played at Bethany from 2009 to 2013.
Bethany Lutheran athletic director Don Westphal, who announced Garvin’s hiring Monday afternoon, was excited when he heard that Garvin was interested in returning to the program.
“His name jumped out right away,” Westphal said. “I received a number of contacts on his behalf.
“As a graduate of Bethany, he understands how we integrate extra-curricular activities into the college, and he can articulate that mission to the students. He’s worked at several levels, and he’s been part of programs that have won at a high level. I think he can come in here and continue to move our program forward.”
Garvin has spent the last three seasons at Minnesota State, where he was an assistant with head coach Matt Margenthaler and associate head coach Mike Schott.
“This was a home-run hire for Bethany,” Margenthaler said. “He loves Bethany, and he’s a great young coach, loyal, tireless worker. It’s important that you have a coach who wants to be there, and he’ll do a great job of representing that university in a great way.”
Garvin said he appreciates the time he spent at Minnesota State, which annually competes for national-tournament bids. He’s been highly involved with recruiting at Minnesota State.
“I’ve been really fortunate to work with coach Margenthaler and coach Schott,” Garvin said. “I’ve never really worried about level I coached at. This is a head-coach opportunity, but this place means more to me than that.”
In four seasons with Matt Fletcher as the head coach, the Vikings were 76-33, including 52-12 in Upper Midwest Athletic Conference games. The Vikings have played in two of the last three Division III national tournaments, winning their opener in 2018.
Last season, Bethany was 21-7 and advanced to the NCAA tournament. Fletcher resigned earlier this month to take the head-coaching job at Division II Concordia-St. Paul.
“You have to give a lot of credit to coach Fletcher,” Garvin said. “He really raised the bar. The expectations now are high, and we embrace that. I was fortunate to win a conference championship as a player, so I’m looking forward to keeping this going.”
Garvin said he met a few of the players during the interview process. The Vikings had only one senior on last season’s team so he’s not behind in the recruiting process, and he’s not planning to make many changes to a program that has found success, playing an up-tempo, full-court style.
“It’s exciting because there are a lot of pieces in place,” Garvin said. “I could tell that the players are excited, and the culture is in a good place. It doesn’t make much sense to change things, especially because the players have been recruited to that style.”
Follow Chad Courrier on Twitter @ChadCourrier.