Bishop Ryan hires April Nakatani to lead girls basketball program

Bishop Ryan has found Julie Stewart’s replacement from within.

Athletic director Roger Coleman announced the hiring of April Nakatani to coach the girls basketball team Friday, giving her a promotion after spending five years as an assistant coach with Ryan.

“She’s had several years of experience with the program,” Coleman said. “She can bring some great leadership to the program and the right energy. Being around the program, we’re confident she can continue the legacy that Julie built. We have full confidence in her.”

Under Stewart’s leadership, Ryan won three Class B state championships, held an 84-game winning streak at one point and won each district regular season championship in her six years with the program.

Nakatani, who played at Minot State from 2010 to 2012, said she knows she has a lot to live up to.

“I’m excited and nervous all at once,” Nakatani said. “Being part of the program the last five years and already knowing the expectation with the girls, it’s a little more relaxing and more exciting to understand that we can move forward and continue our legacy that we’ve brought to Bishop Ryan.

“The last five years I’ve learned to set the bar high, as well as stay consistent with the girls and establishing an identity. We’re trying to keep it simple and stay who we are. Not one person is more important than the other on the team.”

With the hiring of Nakatani, Ryan has filled one of its two basketball coaching openings. Coleman said it’s possible Ryan hires a boys basketball coach by the end of next week.

Garrick Hodge covers Minot State athletics, the Minot Minotauros and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @Garrick_Hodge.