BILLINGS — Josie Kolstad was surprised when she learned her father had been hired to be her coach.
For one, Jon Kolstad hasn’t coached basketball at the high school level since 2016. He also didn’t tell his daughter much about a job he had applied for — head coach for the Wolf Point varsity girls basketball team, for which Josie plays. Wolf Point hired Jon to fill that position earlier this month.
“One day, he just came home and let me know,” Josie said with a laugh. “I was pretty excited because it’s been a while since he full-on coached me.”
Josie just finished her sophomore year, which included a disappointing basketball season. The Wolves, who won the 2018-19 Class B state girls title, went 5-13 this past winter.
Josie, Jon and Wolf Point athletic director Cody Larson view 2019-20 as a rebuilding year, a blip. Jon plans to help the Wolves return to the previous season’s heights.
“No intimidation stepping into their successful program,” Jon told 406mtsports.com Saturday. “I know the community well, and I think we’re going to have some success.”
Jon was born and raised in Wolf Point. He attended Wolf Point High, went to the University of North Dakota and earned a doctorate in optometry from Pacific University in Oregon. He has lived in Glasgow since 1995, when he bought a practice in town. He currently owns multiple eye clinics on the Hi-Line, including one in Wolf Point, which is about 50 miles east of Glasgow.
Jon isn’t concerned about the extra miles and responsibility he’ll take on during the winter.
“I’m busy, but I balance things well,” he said. “I love coaching.”
Jon’s coaching career began in 2002, when he took positions with the local Cal Ripken baseball team and boys and girls travel league basketball programs. He’s moved up and down the baseball and basketball coaching ladders ever since. He currently coaches for the Glasgow Reds, a Class A Legion team.
Jon was the head girls basketball coach at Glasgow in 2015 and 2016. Josie attended the high school in 2018-19 and transferred to Wolf Point. She played a role in Jon’s decision to apply for the Wolf Point girls job, but not the only one. His clinic in Wolf Point contributed to his interest, as did his overall passion for coaching.
“I just feel like I can help,” he said. “I feel blessed that they took a chance with me.”
Larson coached the Wolf Point girls for four years, with 2018-19 being his last. The coach this past season was Brent Nygard, who led the Browning boys to a State C title in 2003-04. Nygard was “ready to ride off into the sunset,” Larson said, and Jon was one of four people who applied to replace him.
“Coach Kolstad was definitely our shining star,” Larson said.
Other than some recent summer tournaments, Jon hasn’t coached Josie since middle school. She’s looking forward to playing for him not just because he’s her father, but because his coaching style is fun, she said.
“Once he’s in the gym, he’s not my dad anymore. He’s coach,” said Josie, a guard. “It’s fun seeing the two sides of him.”