By Keith Shelton
RAPID RIVER - Michelle Carne has had a good amount of success as a prep athlete at Escanaba High School and in college at St. Mary's University in Minnesota, but her heart has always been in coaching.
She will now get that opportunity.
Carne, a recent college graduate, was officially named Thursday as the varsity girls basketball coach at Rapid River High School, something she has wanted for a long time.
"In elementary school, when you fill out what you want to do (when you grow up), I said I wanted to be a varsity coach and a teacher," Carne said in late August. "This will be my first coaching experience and I'm really excited."
Carne heard about the opening while working at the Northern Lights YMCA this summer.
"John Miller and Gary Nash came upon the opening and told me I should apply for it and go through the process and see how it goes," Carne said. "(The Rapid River staff) were so supportive of me and very welcoming. They offered me the job shortly after the interview. (Athletic Director) Rick Pepin and (varsity football coach) Steve Ostrenga are great guys and I'm excited to be a part of their school and community."
Pepin was more than pleased to introduce Carne, saying "We're very excited to bring Michelle on board as our newest addition to the Rapid River coaching staff. She will bring a lot of passion and energy to our basketball program and we look forward to the upcoming year," on Thursday.
Carne will be the third varsity girls basketball coach at Rapid River in the last three years but she plans on building the program.
"You start with the defense and go from there," said Carne. "I don't know the girls yet, but I'm excited to start a team with them and build a program. I think most successful teams start with defense and build around that."
In high school, Carne was an All-U.P. athlete on the Escanaba girls basketball team from 2004-08 under the guidance of Kelly O'Connell, who coached Carne her junior and senior year.
"Kelly O'Connell and (boys varsity coach at Escanaba High School) Tracy Hudson have been there throughout the whole process and have been very supportive of me in college and high school and even now," said Carne. "Both have been very big influences."
O'Connell was excited that a former athlete of his, has come back to Delta County to coach.
"Michelle is a tremendous hard worker who understands the game of basketball well. She's going to bring a really good work ethic to those girls and I'm excited for her," he said Friday morning. "She'll put a lot of time in, even in the summer. She used to help our program during the summer league and if this opportunity didn't come up for her, she was going to help me this season.
"It's good for basketball and a great thing to get young girls who played basketball in this area to come back and get involved. She'll do a fine job."
Though Carne doesn't currently hold a full-time teaching job, she said that's the next step.
"I have a long-term subbing job at Escanaba. I hope to have a (full-time teaching position) one day, but we'll see where it goes," she said.