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College basketball: Long-time Ridgewater women's coach won't return

May 5—WILLMAR — When she was in elementary school, Carrie Ogdahl would cheer for her father's teams at Willmar College. Her dad, Mike Johnson, was a long-time basketball coach for the Warriors.

Ogdahl went on to star as an athlete for Willmar College, now known as Ridgewater, excelling in tennis and basketball. She then had a long career coaching the Warriors' teams and working as a physical education instructor. She has a master's degree from St. Cloud State, a bachelor's degree from Southwest Minnesota State and an associate's degree from Ridgewater.

That tenure is coming to an end.

Ogdahl confirmed that she has not had her contract renewed. After 28 seasons of coaching mostly women's basketball but also women's tennis and softball, she'll no longer be associated with the college.

"I've gone through all the different phases and I will miss Ridgewater," Ogdahl said. "I will miss the student-athletes big time. I love teaching and I love coaching. This will hurt. But it's a business."

Ogdahl returned as head women's basketball coach three years ago after a six-year absence. The team struggled, going 0-14 in the Minnesota College Athletic Conference and 1-24 this past season and 1-27 in the MCAC and 3-41 since her return. The team did not play in 2020-21 when the season was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Hurting the program was the lack of student-athletes. Ridgewater often played games with five or six players available. She said she was continuing to recruit hard for next season until she learned of the non-renewal and hoped to fight a national trend of NJCAA Division III programs often having less than 10 players on their roster.

"The national average is nine," she said.

The non-renewal was disheartening, Ogdahl said.

"It is was it is," Ogdahl said. "I was very, very taken aback. I know that numbers have been an issue, but I was excited about getting them back up. We had some great girls coming in to visit."

Before the program's recent downturn, she coached from 1995-2015 and had a 274-236 record. Along the way, the Warriors featured seven NJCAA All-Americans, won three Region 13 championships and competed in the national tournament three times, finishing third in 2001, sixth in 2002 and fifth in 2006.

As Ridgewater's tennis coach for 10 seasons, she led the Warriors to a national championship in 1997 was named the NJCAA Division III national coach of the year. The school dropped the program a few years later, she said.

She also has been an assistant softball coach, including this season. With her teaching position also gone, she said she's not sure what her next step will be. She lives in Willmar with her four children, Caitlin, Dalton, Landon and Brielle. Landon and Brielle currently attend Willmar High School and are involved in multiple sports. Caitlin and Dalton are graduates.

"The community has been very, very supportive," Ogdahl said. "The people I've talked to can't believe it (the non-renewal) as well. They've told me I've been the face of Ridgewater for so long."