Coaching Changes Part 2 – Mandy Pearson

Spendig a Couple Days with UMD's New Women's Basketball Coach

Early on a Thursday morning, while most students at the University of Minnesota Duluth are still sleeping, Mandy Pearson leads the Women’s Basketball team through practice.   Though not over, her first season at UMD made a big impact on Pearson.

“This might be one of my favorite years of coaching,” said Pearson.  “The players are so thankful for every little thing that our coaching staff does. They’re excited to be in the gym they’re thankful for you know any time that we put extra work and with them, they’re just excited they want to be better.”

Pearson was hired in August to lead the Bulldogs after eight years at Saint Mary’s, where she led the Cardinals to an Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship and a berth in the NCAA Division III tournament.

“She has great experience turning around a program at Saint Mary’s,” said UMD Athletic Director Josh Berlo.  “We’re confident that she will be winning a lot of games here very soon.”

Pearson has quickly grown fond of her new home.

“UMD is amazing it’s an awesome place,” said Pearson.  “(Duluth) is a great city to be in. That made this position very appealing and i am i am i feel really fortunate to be here.”

Her presence has given the Bulldogs a boost, especially in practice where players appreciate Pearson’s new voice.

“(She brings) more positivity, especially in practice,” said junior Allyson Harris.  “We’re working a lot harder and that’s a good thing for us.”  “The energy is so much higher and we’re having a lot of fun but working hard at the same time,” added junior Kenzie Kane.  “I do really believe that we have been getting better each and every day. This year has just been so much better by far. I’m really enjoying playing basketball again and wanting to play each day.”

Berlo also sees the change.

“There’s a lot of smiles on the faces of the young women of that program,” said Berlo.  “The student–athletes are having fun, they’re competing.”

After some early struggles, the Bulldogs quickly adapted to Pearson’s style of play.

“I’ve been very, very happy with the progress that our players have made,” said Pearson.  “I’ve been really happy with their work ethic and with their investment in UMD women’s basketball.”

A little less than 36 hours after practice ends, Pearson’s team is set to host the University of Sioux Falls.

“Game–wise, in a lot of our losses it’s a stretch where we don’t shoot the ball well, or team goes on a run, that’s hurt us in a few games,” Pearson said of her team’s struggles.

In this game, that stretch came in the 2nd quarter.  The Bulldogs were outscored by nine points and trailed by trailed by 11 at the break.  The Panthers pulled farther ahead after halftime to hand UMD its 13th loss of the season.  The Bulldogs finished the year 7–19 which won’t sit well with Pearson.

“I hate losing,” said Pearson.  “I would love to win every game that I’ve ever coached and played in my entire life. I’m competitive to the max.”

However, by all accounts, the future looks bright for UMD Women’s Basketball.

With how quickly we’ve improved in this first year,” said Harris, “I think there’s a lot a lot of potential for next year.”

As for Berlo, he knows he made the right call.

She brings an incredible level of energy every single day,” said Berlo.  “We’re confident that the progress she made a short piece of time at Saint Mary’s, that provides a road map and a playbook, and she’s going to accomplish the same things here before we know it.”

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