BOZEMAN — The Bozeman High girls basketball season came to a close this past weekend in the AA state tournament and now, after seven years as head coach, Erika Gustavsen is stepping down from her position to spend more time with her family.
“It’s never an easy thing to kind of close a chapter in your life -- for now," Gustavsen said. "I feel very thankful for the 10 years I taught and coached here at Bozeman High.”
Gustavsen is leaving the program to spend more time with her husband, two and half year old son and baby number two is on the way in about seven weeks.
“I don’t want to look back and think I missed out on my kids lives because I was in a gym," she said. "It’s bittersweet. I still love coaching, I love being in a gym but I love being a mom more and so I think it was time to make that decision for myself and my family.”
With all that has gone in this past year, Gustavsen was happy to just have a 2020-2021 season and see her to make it to the state tournament.
“It was bizarre obviously with all the COVID and everything, but I’ll definitely remember the group of six seniors that I had," said Gustavsen. "A lot of them I was able to coach for three or four years of their high school career and that’s a really special thing to be able to do and just how they came together and stepped up and had a great season.”
For the now former girls basketball coach, despite winning a state championship a few years ago, it was never about wins or losses, it was about building relationships.
“When I reflect back on my time coaching, I think it's definitely just going to be the times in practice and the times on the bus when I’m hanging out with those girls and building those relationships and getting to know them," she said. "I think that’s what they’re going to reflect back on and remember.”
Many of those relationships have lasted long after her seniors have graduated.
“I’ve been proud of every team that I’ve coached and experienced some success," Gustavsen said. "Just reflecting back, I’m still in contact with so many of my former players and being able to see them graduate from college and get married and starting to have their own kids and still being able to have that relationship with them is a really special thing.”
While next year she will be teaching at Gallatin High, she has one thing to say to Bozeman Hawk Nation.
“I’ll always have a special place for Bozeman High in my heart, that’s for sure.”