Northfield boys' coach Andy Berkvum back at his old school

  • Article by: RON HAGGSTROM , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 17, 2013 - 7:06 PM

Andy Berkvam, Northfield class of ’81, wants to mold his new boys’ team after his success at Lakeville North.

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Andy Berkvam, new head coach of the Northfield boys’ basketball team, said he plans to “teach the kids how to win” and “build something we can be proud of.”

Photo: Photos by Ben Brewer • Special to the Star Tribune,

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Andy Berkvam wasn’t going to leave the Lakeville North girls’ basketball program just for any other school. It had to be the perfect fit.

The ideal situation arose when Northfield, his high school alma mater, came calling. It wasn’t the girls’ program that expressed interest, but the boys’ team.

“This was a pretty special opportunity for me,” Berkvam said. “It was a way for me to give back to the community that I grew up in.”

Berkvam’s father, Al, served as an assistant coach for the Raiders during the 1960s and ’70s. Berkvam played for Northfield and graduated from the school in 1981.

“The timing was right,” Berkvam said. “I would like to be able to do the same thing in Northfield that I did in Lakeville.”

That is building the program into a perennial power. He won more than 400 games and three state championships during his 23-year tenure in Lakeville.

“I really liked Lakeville and had 23 very good years there,” said Berkvam, who still teaches in the Lakeville district. “I felt really good about leaving the program when I did.”

Berkvam brought his blueprint to building a successful program with him to Northfield.

“It all starts with the youth programs,’’ he said. “They are your feeder programs for the high school team.”

Berkvam also realizes the importance of continuity throughout a program to build a winner.

He surrounded himself with familiar faces; former Lakeville North assistant Jim Schreffler and high school friend Pat Wagner are assistant coaches for Berkvam. The staff is rounded out by Ryan Driscoll.

“It’s still going to be a learning process for all of us,” Berkvam said. “We are going to have to teach the kids how to win. It’s going to take time.”

The Raiders have won only five games in three of the previous four years. They were 7-19 a year ago.

“I was excited right away when I heard he was going to be our coach,” Northfield senior guard Hunter Sannes said. “I knew what he had accomplished at Lakeville North. He will change the culture of our program.”

Sannes expects that to happen sooner rather than later.

“He brings a different level of intensity to the gym every day that we haven’t seen before,” Sannes said. “I think we can get this turned around this year.”

The Raiders are 1-3 through their first four games. They defeated Rochester Mayo 62-44, while their three setbacks have all been by fewer than 10 points.

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