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Montague announces new boys and girls varsity basketball coaches for 2023-24

Nick Thaler shifts from girls coach to boys coach; athletic trainer Jess DeBruin adds role of girls varsity coach.

In this file photo, Montague girls basketball coach Nick Thaler is photographed at the CatchMark Media Day on Nov. 24, 2021, in Whitehall, Mich. (Cody Ottinger | CatchMark)

Nick Thaler and Jess DeBruin have become quite familiar with Montague High School and its athletes.

They’ll continue to grow those relationships, albeit in slightly different roles going forward.

Thaler, who has guided Montague’s girls varsity basketball program to a 33-13 record the last two seasons, was announced Tuesday afternoon as the Wildcats’ new boys varsity basketball coach. He fills the position vacated by longtime coach Dave Osborne’s resignation.

Meanwhile, DeBruin was named Montague’s girls varsity basketball coach, filling the role held by Thaler. DeBruin is also Montague’s athletic trainer.

Montague athletic traininer Jess DeBruin has added the role of Wildcats girls varsity basketball head coach to her resume. She was announced as Montague’s coach on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023. (Courtesy of Montague athletics)

Prior to being hired by Montague as its girls varsity basketball coach, Thaler served as an assistant coach for Grand Haven’s boys program for five years. The 2001 Mona Shores alumnus was Grand Haven’s junior varsity head coach for three years and freshman head coach for two seasons.

“During this process of interviewing for this position, the committee was focused on finding the best candate for this job,” Montague athletic director Jay Mulder wrote in a release. “Coach Thaler meets all of the criteria and more. MHS wanted to find a coach who would care for the student-athletes, be a positive role model for them, and provide opportunities for the players and program to grow. We hope to have the rest of the coaching staff completed as soon as possible.”

DeBruin has a good deal of experience coaching basketball. Most recently she has served as an assistant coach for the Muskegon Community College women’s basketball team. Like Thaler, DeBruin is a Mona Shores grad. She played college basketball at Muskegon Community College before finishing her career at Alma College.

DeBruin will continue as Montague’s athletic trainer.

“The level of care that our student-athletes receive will not be affected by this coaching move,” Mulder wrote in the release. “Coach DeBruin meets all of the criteria and more needed for this position.

“MHS wanted to find a coach who would care for the student-athletes, be a positive role model for them, and provide opportunities for the player and program to grow. Coach DeBruin, Coach (Deanna) Temple (Near), and MHS are excited to get to work and begin preparing for the upcoming season.”

Lead writer for CatchMark SportsNet and Web Services leader for CatchMark Technologies.

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