When basketball fans around the state hear the name Hutton, Hamline University in St. Paul is where they think.
And the man they think about is Joe Hutton Sr., the men’s basketball head coach and athletic director for 35 years for the Pipers, compiling a record of 591-207 with 19 conference titles, three National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics championships and three-times NAIA runner-up finishes.
The basketball gym adorns his name, Hutton Arena. Sons Joe Jr. and Tom also were Hamline graduates.
Grandson Tommy followed in his footsteps, coaching basketball in the Chanhassen youth system and the last seven years in the Storm basketball program as head JV coach. Now he’ll get a chance to lead his own program.
Hutton was named head varsity coach at Southwest Christian High School, replacing Kit Avery, who stepped down after eight seasons.
Darin Keizer, Athletic Director at the Chaska school, said the energy and enthusiasm of Hutton stood out and made him the perfect candidate to pick up a program that continues to grow in Class AA.
“I’m excited for the challenge. I want to make certain things were fine at Chanhassen. My kids went to the school. My heart was at the school,” Hutton said. “In the back of my mind, these last three or four years, I kept my eye on Southwest Christian High School. It’s a smaller school, right in our back yard. I’ve got friends in the building, (Dean of Students) Rob Wassenaar, we’re good buddies from back in the day.”
Hutton, a Hopkins High School graduate, was a walk-on at University of Minnesota-Duluth in both basketball and tennis, earning a full scholarship in basketball his sophomore year. He was selected as a basketball captain and awarded the E.L. “Duce” Rasmussen Award as the school’s top male scholar athlete.
Hutton completed his athletic career winning three consecutive conference championships (‘85-’87) in both sports, played in three NAIA National Basketball Tournaments and finished in the top 40 in all-time scorers in UMD men’s basketball history.
Hutton and his wife, Marilee, have been residents of Victoria for more than 20 years. Their boys, Maxon and Ryder, both had successful football and basketball careers at Chanhassen High School. Both boys went on to play football in college at Concordia-St. Paul and Hamline, respectively.
“I always tried to keep things like they would be on varsity. These kids all wanted to play varsity and they didn’t reach that goal for one reason or another. I knew I had to push them to be that. A lot of times it wasn’t the thing they wanted to do. A lot of times it was improving defense, it was rebounding, it was those hustle plays. I want to build an identity. I want people to hear Southwest Christian basketball and know exactly what they’re facing. I’m going to bring energy and passion. We’re going to get after it,” Hutton said.
Joining Hutton will be longtime friend, Larry Witthus, as an assistant coach. Witthus, a Chanhassen resident, had three children play collegiate athletics including son Joey, a recent Division II national basketball champion, as well as daughter Ali and son Eric. Ali is a graduate of SWCHS and was a head softball coach at the school for six years.
Witthus attended Glencoe High School where he participated in football, basketball, and baseball, playing basketball at Minnesota State-Mankato.
“I always teased Larry, if I get a head coach job, you’re going to be assistant. Going back to when our kids were younger, when we coached together, we had so much fun. We have similar styles, similar beliefs in what we want to see of the kids on the court. We both have a goal of everyone getting better. From the best player on the team down. What I tried to do at Chanhassen was push the little things and how that can make the difference. Larry and I played at a higher level, we’ve been around the game, and we’re excited to share what we have learned,” Hutton said.
It has been a busy few weeks filling athletic department position openings for Keizer. Sara Weidler (girls JV soccer coach), Becky Straub (assistant track coach), Taria Cameron (assistant track and cross country coach), and Eric Talsma (girls JV basketball coach) were added to staffs.
Stacy Ingraham, currently the head of the exercise science program at Crown College, is the new boys and girls cross country coach. Former leader Nick Lubben will remain as an assistant.
Ingraham previously coached at Wartburg College, Bethel University and the University of Minnesota. She was a standout distance runner at the University of Northern Iowa, setting numerous records and led for two years as a captain.
Nick Heiberg was also named co-head coach of the Southwest Christian/Richfield boys hockey team with Erik Westrum. Heiberg graduated from Minnetonka High School and attended St. Mary’s University. He has more than 15 years of experience coaching hockey at different levels.
Jessy Tow-Arnett (assistant volleyball coach) and Nick Tow-Arnett (performance coach) also are new members of the SWCHS staff. Jessy played for the Minnesota Gophers in a 2004 national runner-up finish, playing professionally for 10 years. Nick was a Gopher football player and and holds certifications in Movement and Mobility, Corrective Exercise, and Functional Movement Systems.