Aberdeen, S.D. – Following the retirement of head women’s basketball coach Curt Fredrickson, Northern State Director of Athletics Josh Moon has announced the hiring of Paula Krueger to fill the position as the fourth head women’s basketball coach in program history. Krueger moved into the head coaching role after spending the last two seasons as the team’s associate head coach.
“We are very excited to announce Paula Krueger as the new leader of NSU women’s basketball,” explained Moon. “Paula knows this program inside and out and has tremendous passion and respect for the rich basketball tradition at NSU. She reached the highest level of success as a student-athlete at NSU, had successful experience as both a high school and NCAA D2 college head coach, and has proven herself as an assistant coach at NSU for nine years. She is clearly ready for this opportunity.”
A former NSU standout, Krueger returned to the Northern State sidelines in 2015 after 12 years at the NCAA Division II and high school levels.
“I am humbled, honored and excited to become the next Head Women's Basketball coach at Northern State University,” described Krueger. “Northern State, this program and the community of Aberdeen are home to me. I'd like to thank NSU President Tim Downs and Director of Athletics Josh Moon for the confidence they've shown in me and their support throughout this process. This is the opportunity of a lifetime for me; the fulfillment of a dream that started over 25 years ago.”
In her three seasons back with the Wolves, Northern made three trips to the NCAA Central Region Tournament, won the 2016-17 NSIC/Sanford Health Tournament, won two NSIC North Division Championships and won a share of the 2017-18 NSIC Overall Championship. NSU went 73-21 overall in those three seasons, with four wins over nationally ranked opponents.
“She has been an assistant coach at Northern State for nine years, and as a former player and assistant coach she has a great passion for NSU basketball,” noted Fredrickson. “She is a proven recruiter and has the confidence of our present basketball players. It has been a lifelong dream to be the women’s basketball coach at Northern State and I know she will do a great job.”
Miranda Ristau was twice named to the NSIC All-Conference teams, and was honored as the 2017-18 NSIC Player of the Year. The Warner native was also named the first CoSIDA Academic All-American® of the Year in school history. Jill Conrad also earned three NSIC All-Conference honors and was named the NSIC Tournament MVP in 2016-17.
“Peter Stroble said ‘Legacy is not leaving something for people, it's leaving something in people’ and Coach Fredrickson has made a huge imprint on me personally and professionally; challenging me not to be the same, but to be better,” noted Krueger. “Coach, I can't thank you enough for your constant teaching and support.”
Krueger began her basketball career for the Wolves as a student-athlete from 1990 to 1994. In her time on the court, Paula recorded two team NAIA Division II National Championships (1992 and 1994), and one NAIA Division II National Runner Up. In the 1992-93 season, she was awarded the NAIA Division II National Tournament Hustle Award, the NSU Women’s Basketball Spirit Award, and was a member of the NSU Scholar-Honor Athlete and Northern Sun Academic All-Conference Teams. A season later, she was named the NAIA Division II National Tournament Most Valuable Player and to the NAIA Division II All-Tournament First-Team. Paula garnered the NSU Women’s Basketball Spirit Award for the second year straight, and was named the 1993-94 Hildred Wolfe Female Athlete of the Year Recipient.
“This is a bittersweet moment for Northern – as we close the book on Coach Fredrickson’s remarkable career, we’re also ushering in a new era of women’s basketball,” explained NSU President Dr. Tim Downs. “I can’t think of a better replacement than Coach Krueger. She knows the kind of players we recruit and the expectations of our fan base. We have every confidence that under her leadership the exceptional tradition of outstanding women's basketball at Northern will continue.”
Krueger has been involved at all levels of women’s basketball, beginning her coaching career as a varsity assistant and junior varsity head coach at Warner High School. After a stint as Northern’s graduate assistant, she moved on to coach one season at Pahrump Valley High School as a varsity assistant and junior varsity head coach in Nevada. She returned to the Northern sidelines in fall 1997 as the women’s basketball assistant coach and head softball coach. Krueger spent six seasons in that role, leading the Wolves to both a first- and second-round appearance in the NCAA Division II North Central Regional.
Moon added, “Paula has worked closely with Coach Fredrickson over the past three years to elevate the program, which resulted in our first NSIC overall championship since 1998 and first NCAA Tournament win since 2011. There was only one person who Coach Fred believed was ready to take over the reins after his storied 39-year career, and that was Paula Krueger. Coach Fred’s recommendation was really important in our review process and we look forward to the continued elevation of Wolves Women’s Basketball under Paula’s leadership.”
In 2003, Krueger stepped into her first NCAA head coaching role at the Colorado School of Mines. In nine seasons with the Orediggers, her teams tallied two runner-up finishes at the RMAC Championships (2005-06 and 2009-10), seven conference tournament first-round appearances, an NCAA Central Region appearance (2009-10), and an RMAC East Division Co-Championship (2008-09). She tallied the highest winning percentage/most wins in a coach’s tenure (133-125) at Colorado Mines.
As a professional, Krueger has served as an NCAA North Central Region Committee Chair, a member of the NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Committee and an NCAA Conference Captain for the RMAC from 2005 to 2008.
Krueger returned to the high school ranks in 2012 as the head girls’ basketball coach at Arrupe Jesuit High School. After one season with the Generals, she became the head girls’ basketball coach at ThunderRidge High School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. In two seasons with the Grizzlies, Krueger’s teams made two CHSAA 5A State Tournament appearances (2014-15 runner-up) and won the 2014-15 Continental League Championship. She was named the Continental League Girls’ Basketball Coach of the Year and Head Coach of the Colorado High School Girls’ Basketball All-Star Game that season.
Krueger has been honored as an inductee into the NSU Athletics Hall of Fame (2005), Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Hall of Fame (2008) and Colorado School of Mines Hall of Fame for her 2004-05 team (2011). She was named the RMAC East Division Coach of the Year, and RMAC Co-Coach of the Year in 2009.
Krueger is a 1995 and 1996 graduate of Northern State University with her Bachelor of Science in education and Master of Arts in teaching. She also received her principal certification from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, in April 2015. Krueger resides in Aberdeen with her husband, Brad.
What others are saying
“What a great hire for Northern State. Not only did the Wolves get a great X's and O's coach who prepares her teams as well as anyone that I have ever competed against, but also a great person who cares deeply for her players. She is the type of coach that every parent wants their child to play for. Congratulations, Paula!” – Kip Drown, Head Women’s Basketball Coach at Georgia Southern
“I can’t think of a better person to take over for Coach Fredrickson than Paula Krueger. As an alum, she knows and understands the expectations and culture of following a legend. When I coached against her in the RMAC when she was at Mines, her teams were always well prepared and very difficult to play against. She is a student of the game with great experience and knowledge. I’m so happy for her to get this opportunity. She is absolutely the perfect ‘fit’ for Northern and will do an outstanding job! Congratulations, Coach Krueger!” – Tanya Haave, Head Women’s Basketball Coach at Metro State University
“What an incredible hire for Northern State Women’s Basketball! Paula is an incredibly passionate person, coach, recruiter, mentor and friend! She is going to do a tremendous job for the Wolves.” – Dawn Plitzuweit, Head Women’s Basketball Coach at the University of South Dakota
“Paula will bring a great deal of energy and enthusiasm to the Northern State women’s basketball program. She has been a huge part of their most recent success and will continue to keep that winning tradition alive. Her passion for Northern runs deep and is contagious to everyone around her. She is the perfect fit for this position.” – Paul Sather, Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Northern State University
“I feel that this news is great for the Northern women's basketball program that Coach Paula Krueger has been promoted to the head coaching position. She is a Northern gal and her roots run very deep here. Coach Krueger knows the program, and what it takes to keep the tradition going forward. Congratulations to Coach Krueger. We are all very excited for her and looking forward to next season.” – Bob Olson, Former Northern State Athletic Director and Head Men’s Basketball Coach