Former Sleepy Eye standout and three-sport athlete Brandon Polesky is Rising through the ranks
Polesky, a 2014 graduate of Sleepy Eye High School, recently accepted a position at Bethany Lutheran College as the top assistant head coach. Prior to that, he served as the No. 2 assistant coach at Southwest Minnesota State University for two years and he also served as a student-coach at Gustavus Adolphus College in his junior and senior years at the college.
As a student-coach, he was the same age as the players so it was a little bit strange at first. But he and the players adjusted and learned to work well together.
“It helped me get a feel for the college level, help with practice and game-planning as a college student so that really helped,” he said. “The coaches sat with me and said that they knew that my ultimate goal was to be a collegiate basketball coach and they asked if I was willing to help out.
“My roommates were basketball players and I had the relationship with them as friends and players, and at the same time my junior and senior year I was a coach,” he said. “It was a real good experience and at a young age, I was very grateful to get that opportunity from that coaching staff there and that ultimately helped get me to the next step that I needed to be [at SMSU].”
Polesky was standout athlete who played football, basketball and baseball at Sleepy Eye, but basketball was always No. 1 for him.
“As a young kid, being in the gym with my dad with all the varsity players practicing, I just found the love with the game that way and learned from him,” Polesky said. “I basically got started at a real young age. As a sophomore and junior in high school, I was coaching fifth grade so I was at tournaments with them on the weekends. After that, I got real into it with my sister’s group, she graduated in 2018 from Sleepy Eye [the Indians’ girls’ basketball team took second at the state tournament that year] and I was coaching her for five or six years and that was a big impact.”
When Polesky was a freshman in college, Kory Kettner of the Minnesota Rise AAU program reached out to Polesky and had offered him the 16U boys’ coaching job and he coached many players who will be or are playing college basketball.
Before he graduated from GAC, Polesky was student-teaching at Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial High School and he got a surprise offer.
“I was actually going to be heading down to Lamoni, Iowa, which has Graceland University,” he said. “It’s an NAIA, Division I school and they actually just got done with winning the National Championship game for their league and Craig Doty, who is a very well-known collegiate coach, wanted me to come down and be one his assistants down there. Literally the day before I was about to go down there for the second time to finalize everything, I got a text message from coach [Brad] Bigler at SMSU. I’ve know him all my life through camps and my dad and he just texted me out of the blue.”
He changed his mind at the last minute, deciding to coach at SMSU instead.
“It kind of happened so fast, that was a dream come true because I knew SMSU from going to camps there, I knew the NSIC league from being a kid going to SMSU or Mankato State games, that’s always been a goal of mine,” Polesky said. “I was very appreciative of that and I was just fortunate of all the duties I was responsible for at a young age. I was in charge of the scouting reports for our games every week.”
He said he had to put together a 10-minute video scout and a couple page paper scout and he would present it to the team each week. He said he spent a tremendous amount of time scouting the upcoming opponents each week and it was his job to give a very detailed report on them.
He would go through every offensive possession that team had ran throughout the season or sometimes from the previous season and he’d clip out and keep track of how many times they ran a certain set. He then would go through each individual player and pick out up to 10 clips on each player to show their tendencies. He also scouts out-of-bounds plays and defenses and gets reports on them, too.
He said that the first year was pretty tough on him.
“It was definitely overwhelming for sure, but from a good standpoint,” Polesky said. “I knew that Division II was a very high level of play, but I didn’t realize how much time and detail went into it. But I really appreciate that now, I didn’t realize that it took me 10-12 hours to put together a one-game video and paper scout. I learned a lot that way.
“And we have skill development, we have guys that redshirt so I did individual workouts with them, lifting weights and one-on-one basketball stuff,” he said. “I just learned a lot, all the little things on how to run a program and all the behind-the-scenes stuff like how to run camps and stuff like that.”
He said that as he gets more and more familiar with the job, it takes less time for him to get the preparation ready.
“This past year was a little bit less time consuming because I got a little bit more familiar with the league and how they all run their stuff,” he said. “It clicked a little bit easier so I could present it, where the first year, I wanted to make sure that I knew everything so that I could present it to the best of my ability.”
He also said that it can be a challenge to keep up with all of the coaching changes and how the opposing coaches are evolving.
“Everyone is looking to improve daily and there’s tons of different resources available for coaches to learn and bounce ideas off of each other as well,” Polesky said. “Even here at SMSU from year one to year two, we added a bunch of new things offensively and defensively, so the game keeps evolving and you have to do your homework every night if you want to win.”
The young coach has a lot of mentors that helped him along the way that he wanted to thank.
“I would like to thank Kory Kettner, Shane Heiderscheidt, Ryan Hulke, Scott Hadley, and my dad (Brian Polesky) for all they have done for me with the game of basketball and giving me opportunities at a young age to coach,” he said.