As one young Northland boys basketball coach expressed his excitement at being hired at Superior High School on Monday, his former coach reflected on his recent retirement.

Kory Deadrick, the former Esko basketball standout who most recently spent one season as Proctor’s head coach and one as the head assistant at Duluth Denfeld, was announced as Superior’s new coach.

“I’m very excited to get the opportunity,” Deadrick said. “It’s been a dream and passion of mine to be a head coach. I’m very lucky to get another chance and make the most of that.”

The 25-year-old Deadrick, who played at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul before transferring to St. Scholastica to finish his college career, was 9-19 at Proctor before resigning due to conflicts with the school’s administration. He spent this past season at Denfeld coaching under Mike Devney, his high school coach at Esko.

Devney, who won a Class AA state title with Deadrick at Esko in 2014 and brought the Eskomos to six state tournaments, quietly announced his retirement earlier this spring after 27 seasons and 519 victories at Carlton, Esko and Denfeld. He coached Carlton to a Class A state runner-up finish in 1998.

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Former Duluth Denfeld coach Mike Devney shakes hands with Esko’s Payton Wefel before the start of a 2019 game at Esko. Devney, who won more than 500 career games, coached at Esko for 19 years, bringing the team to six state tournaments and winning the 2014 Class AA title. He coached the last three years at Denfeld before retiring this spring. (Steve Kuchera / File / News Tribune)
Former Duluth Denfeld coach Mike Devney shakes hands with Esko’s Payton Wefel before the start of a 2019 game at Esko. Devney, who won more than 500 career games, coached at Esko for 19 years, bringing the team to six state tournaments and winning the 2014 Class AA title. He coached the last three years at Denfeld before retiring this spring. (Steve Kuchera / File / News Tribune)

“It was time,” Devney said. “It’ll be a process between Denfeld and Lincoln (Park Middle School) to get things turned around. I’m going to be 64 this year and it’s time for somebody who is younger with more energy to step in. There’s potential there.”

That youthful energy describes the 25-year-old Deadrick.

“We saw in Kory his passion and drive,” Superior activities director Ella Olson said. “His energy was very apparent, and he’s been itching to get going since we talked to him. It’s nice to feel his energy and his passion for the game.”

Olson, a former Minnesota Duluth basketball player and assistant coach under Deadrick’s aunt, Stacy, at St. Scholastica, had no qualms hiring Deadrick despite his short stint at Proctor.

The St. Scholastica Saints men’s basketball team boasted six athletes from Carlton County high schools in 2016: Nate Weets, of Cloquet (from left); Marc Peterson and Kory Deadrick, of Esko; Jake Naslund and Brandon Newman, of Barnum; and Tony Adamczak, of Moose Lake-Willow River. (Dave Harwig / 2016 file / For the Pine Journal)
The St. Scholastica Saints men’s basketball team boasted six athletes from Carlton County high schools in 2016: Nate Weets, of Cloquet (from left); Marc Peterson and Kory Deadrick, of Esko; Jake Naslund and Brandon Newman, of Barnum; and Tony Adamczak, of Moose Lake-Willow River. (Dave Harwig / 2016 file / For the Pine Journal)

“There was no hesitancy at all,” she said. “He was very upfront about all of his past experiences. He came very prepared (to his interview) with lots of great materials and situations and recommendations, too. He didn’t hide anything and was very open about his past. It’s very positive to hear how much he wants to be in the gym with these kids.”

Likewise, Deadrick is pleased to be working alongside someone with as much basketball acumen as Olson.

“She has a basketball mind … and is very open-minded to changes and in listening to ideas from coaches,” Deadrick said. “I think there’s going to be a lot of good things happening athletically at Superior with her in charge.”

The Spartans went 8-9 in 2021, a season shortened due to COVID-19. Jake Smith stepped down afterward, leaving an opening at a school that has produced several quality players in recent years.

“I’ve always thought Superior has had excellent basketball talent,” said Deadrick, a financial advisor for Edward Jones the last three-plus years. “In the past 10 or 15 years, they’ve had a handful of guys at Wisconsin-Superior … and Brandon Myer was one of the all-time best UMD basketball players. They’ve definitely had some talent come through there.”

Esko's Kory Deadrick shoots over Annandale's Tanner Olean during the 2014 Class AA championship game at Target Center. (Dave Harwig / For the News Tribune)
Esko's Kory Deadrick shoots over Annandale's Tanner Olean during the 2014 Class AA championship game at Target Center. (Dave Harwig / For the News Tribune)

Though coaching longevity is no longer a given in high school, Deadrick expects to be around long enough to develop that talent.

“If we can get him through his first five years, he’ll coach the rest of his life. If he gets run out in two or three years or it just turns him off, he’ll never coach again,” Devney said. “I know a lot of kids who’ve gotten run off with all the pressure and the parents.

“I think he got short-changed at Proctor. I have no idea what went on up there, but he needed a couple years to change the culture. They have a pretty good culture that he can step right into at Superior.”

Devney believes that with the coaching history in Deadrick’s family, he’ll be able to deal with issues that inevitably will arise. His mother, Lynne, has coached college volleyball for 30 years, including the past 18 at Wisconsin-Superior, and his father, Shane, has plenty of experience coaching as well.

Kory Deadrick, of Esko, was the Duluth News Tribune 2014 Basketball Player of the Year after averaging 25.3 points and 9.5 rebounds per game while leading the Eskomos to the Class AA state title. (Clint Austin / 2014 file / News Tribune)
Kory Deadrick, of Esko, was the Duluth News Tribune 2014 Basketball Player of the Year after averaging 25.3 points and 9.5 rebounds per game while leading the Eskomos to the Class AA state title. (Clint Austin / 2014 file / News Tribune)

“There’s always going to be someone to challenge you who knows more than you do no matter how successful you are,” Devney said. “Parents are the biggest roadblock that you’re going to encounter because parents always think Johnny is better than Johnny actually is and is better than somebody else you might be playing.”

Deadrick was glad to have been a part of Devney’s swan song on the bench.

“It was tremendous to learn for another year under Mike. I have tremendous respect for him as a coach and as a person,” Deadrick said. “It was good for myself to hit a reset button and go there and (be an assistant).

“It’s the same as when I was at Proctor, you have to find things that you’re going to stick to and try to coach and teach kids. Superior has a lot of similar values that I have with kids being students before athletes. That’s a very important part that I’m going to push. It has to start in the classroom.”