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Basketball: North hires Brad Kudlas as girls head coach
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This was not a hard decision for Brad Kudlas. He had been coaching basketball since 2001 and had fallen in love with the school and surrounding community. It was his "dream job" to coach the Raiders girls varsity program, which he'd been a part of since 2007. 

And when that position became vacant after Eric Herrick took the boys head coach job at Dawson County, it didn't take long for Kudlas' dream to become reality. He was named North's head coach on Monday, taking charge of what has been one of the most successful programs in the state in recent years.

Kudlas has been at North since 2001, when he came on as a boys varsity assistant and ninth grade head coach. On the girls side, he coached under Beth Gliatta, Derrick Hershey and Jack Sarfaty before joining Herrick's staff, where he helped the Raiders to their unprecedented run of recent success. North has made the state playoffs in seven of the past eight seasons and has reached the state semifinals the last two. The Raiders are set to lose just one player from 2018-19's team.

That means Kudlas will not be afforded the leeway many other new head coaches would be to figure things out in their first seasons with a program.

"You feel like you have a big target on your back," Kudlas said. 

But the path to success hasn't just been laid: Kudlas himself has been a crucial part of it. He doesn't expect to change how the Raiders look on the court, with North still focusing on intense pressing and man-to-man defense while pushing the ball up on offense. North already has a number of players who can lead, with All-County Co-Players of the Year Caroline Martin and Ansley Allen both set to return for their senior seasons. 

And Kudlas, who worked under three previous girls head coaches before Herrick built the program up to its current standing, knows that true sustainable success is based just as much on off-court work: mainly establishing a tight, family-like bond with the players, building strong community support, and maintaining the infrastructure for a pipeline of talent to flow. 

"When you can make a tight-knit family that operates as a unit, you can do anything," Kudlas said.

Kudlas knows as well as anyone how Herrick made the Raiders so successful, but he doesn't expect to be a carbon copy of the former coach. He considers himself more laid-back than the often-fiery Herrick and sometimes had to be the "good cop" in interactions with players, although Kudlas said he could take a more demanding role in his new position.

He'll be far from a new face, though, which was the cause of much excitement when Kudlas confirmed to the players on Monday that he'd gotten the job.

"They were really pumped," Kudlas said. "I was excited. It feels good to know that."