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NORTH LIBERTY — Calling it “one of the hardest decisions I’ve made in my life,” girls’ basketball coach Jaime Brandt is leaving her alma mater.
Iowa City Liberty principal Scott Kibby announced Monday morning that the new high school has hired Brandt, who had coached Linn-Mar the past three seasons.
Brandt, an IGHSAU Hall of Fame player at Linn-Mar and the fourth-leading scorer in University of Iowa history, shared her decision with Linn-Mar associate athletics director Tonya Moe on Sunday, then told her team Monday morning.
“It was really emotional,” she said. “There were a lot of tears, both from me and the girls.
“I love Linn-Mar, everything about it. I’m thankful for everything Linn-Mar has given me.”
But Brandt, 26, lives in Iowa City with her husband Danny and their 9-month-old son Kyler. It’s a 52-minute drive, one way, from her house to Linn-Mar.
To Liberty, it’s 10 minutes.
“It’s not just about my husband and me any more,” Brandt said. “It was a long week, talking to my family, praying, and figuring out what to do. It comes down to what is best for my family.”
Moe gets it.
“We know it’s not personal,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity for her, and it’s best for her family.”
A 2009 graduate of Linn-Mar, Brandt (then Jaime Printy) led the Lions to three state-tournament appearances and scored 1,391 points. She orally committed to Iowa during her freshman season.
At Iowa, she registered 1,841 points. The Hawkeyes reached the NCAA tournament four times during her collegiate career.
Upon graduation, Brandt was hired as an assistant at Linn-Mar by head coach Michael Brandt (no relation). She was an assistant for one season, then promoted after Michael Brandt stepped down.
During three seasons as Linn-Mar’s head coach, Jaime Brandt posted a 48-24 record, highlighted by a 20-5 campaign in 2015-16 that ended in the Class 5A state semifinals.
“Jaime will be a wonderful role model for our young girls,” Kibby said. “She has been successful as an athlete and as a coach. She is knowledgeable and passionate about the game.”
Liberty will open its doors this fall, and its first team will be comprised mostly of freshmen and sophomores. The Lightning will compete as an independent in 2017-18, then will join the Mississippi Valley Conference in time for the 2018-19 school year.
“I’m sad and emotional about leaving Linn-Mar, but at the same time, I’m excited,” Brandt said. “Not many coaches get a chance to start a program from scratch, and I know there will be a good support system.”
Moe said that Linn-Mar will begin a search for a new coach immediately.
“The timing is a little difficult,” she said. “We’ll keep plugging away. Jaime left the program in great condition.”
Linn-Mar was 12-11 last season and returns 85 percent of its scoring for next season, led by junior Kamryn Finley, a Northern Iowa recruit.
The top four scorers are back: Finley, Carly Spies, Ally Johnson and Megan Murphy.
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