On Saturday, Nov. 2, the eve of his 32nd year of coaching, Hopkins High School head boys basketball coach Ken Novak Jr. was inducted into the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
“Coach Novak’s impact on the Hopkins community is far reaching, not only as a basketball coach, but as a teacher and mentor for so many,” Hopkins Activities Director Dan Johnson said. “A testament to his ability as a coach – he has won six state championships as a basketball coach, but his first state title was in girls’ tennis almost 20 years ago.”
Novak joins another Hopkins coach in the MBCA Hall of Fame, his father Ken Novak, Sr., whom he credits for being his constant mentor over his nearly three decades of coaching.
“My dad’s probably number one. We model a lot of what we’ve done off of him,” Novak said. “He’s a hall of fame coach too. It was just seeing the importance he had on kids’ lives. Players, former players, would come back and thank him and it really showed me how impactful being a coach could be.”
Novak took over the role of head mentor for the Hopkins boys’ basketball program in 1990 after 10 seasons at Blaine Public Schools. His decision to return to Hopkins “felt like the right thing to do.”
Since returning to the Royals 24 seasons ago, Novak has helped Hopkins claim six Class AAAA state championships (2002, 05, 06, 09, 10, 11) and 20 Lake Conference titles. For his efforts, Novak was named National Coach of the Year by ESPN in 2011.
Under his watch, the Royals have also seen numerous players go on to play in college, as Novak ensures that all of his players are excelling in the classroom as well as on the court.
“We have sent a lot of kids to college. I think it has become something special,” Novak said. “We teach self-discipline and a work ethic. There’s a responsibility here and they [the players] have to live up to that responsibility.”
When not coaching, Novak teaches Social Studies at Hopkins High School.
“Hopkins is a special place. I’m continually amazed by the teachers I’m associated with, how hard they’re working,” Novak said. “I’m not sure if we realize how lucky we are to have the teachers we do. I consider myself very lucky to be here.”
In his career, Novak has amassed a win-loss record of 711-130 for a winning percentage of 84.5. His 711 career victories currently rank fourth all-time in Minnesota, 28 wins shy of Mounds View’s Zig Kauls for third place. With 13 state tournament appearances, Novak is tied for third in state history with Bob Brink of Rocori (Cold Spring). His six state championships are most all-time for a coach in Minnesota.
The ceremony, hosted at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Minneapolis, honored Novak, along with Luverne’s Laurin Carroll, Vern Johnson of Grygla-Gatzke and Braham’s Bob Vaughan.
The Royals, meanwhile, will tip off their 2013-14 season at the Lindbergh Center on Nov. 26 against Bloomington Kennedy.
Photo credit: Minnesota State High School League