On Monday afternoon, Bethlehem Academy announced in an email to the Faribault Daily News and KDHL Radio that its varsity boys basketball coach, Eric Hildebrandt, had resigned.
Hildebrandt, a 2007 Faribault High School grad and four-year FHS boys basketball assistance coach, led the BA Cardinals to a 31-24 record over two seasons.
“Coach Hildebrandt did a great job coaching the boys basketball teams the past two seasons,” said BA athletic director Ed Friesen in the email. “We are grateful for the foundation he has built the past two seasons. We are going to miss him.
Hildebrandt aimed to maintain a well-rounded program.
“I think Eric taught players to play the game the right way. Emphasizing defense, taking good care of the ball, good offensive philosophy and defensive philosophy. One thing, being a young guy he also had good rapport with the kids which was pretty helpful, too, as far as creating the basketball community he wanted. Great relationships with parents, too, communicating with him.”
A combination of factors influenced Hildebrandt’s decision, including a desire for more time with his wife and his first child born last fall.
“It was a variety of things that just contributed to me to not being able to make a 100 percent time commitment,” Hildebrandt said. “I had a great experience in my two years there. It was a really difficult decision, especially because of the players. They have a bright future and are a great group.
“...Just kind of taking all things into account, my family situation and a number of other things, it was the right decision at the right time... Again, a very difficult decision, but I’m confident it’s the right one with my life circumstances.”
Friesen said he didn’t see any signs during the season that this decision loomed, but noted Hildebrandt carried on through personal illness, late nights with the newborn and with the challenge of not teaching at a different school.
Hildebrandt said he felt a strong connection to his players, particularly next season’s seniors who were molded most by his coaching.
Hildebrandt thanked his assistants, Dean Reiter and Anthony Gustafson, as well as Friesen and former BA volleyball coach and boys basketball head coach, Franz Boelter, for their support.
“All those guys were to mentors to me,” Hildebrandt said. “It was a fun journey.”
Friesen, a St. John’s University graduate, mentioned he and Hildebrandt, a Bethel University graduate, remain on good terms and joked that the two will continue to be united in their rivalry toward St. Thomas University.
Hildebrandt did not have a successor in mind and said of the coaching search, “I’m not going to get involved in that; it’s not my area to get involved in.”
Friesen plans to start discussions within the Faribault basketball community in search of a new coach.
“I want the best coach I can get,” Friesen said. “One of the things that makes it tough is when you’re looking to fill coaching positions when you don’t have a teaching position open. It has to be someone in the community or someone willing to commute to coach.”
A return to coaching down the road is a possibility for Hildebrandt.
“I think so. I hope so,” Hildebrandt said. “It’s definitely something I enjoy, I love coaching and I love basketball.”
Hildebrandt will continue teaching social studies at FHS.