116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MOUNT VERNON — It was going to take the perfect circumstance, or at least an optimal one, for Nate Sanderson to leave North Linn.
Sanderson has been hired as head girls’ basketball coach at Mount Vernon High School, pending board approval Monday night.
“Before the job opened, my wife and I had decided that we were happy (as an assistant) at North Linn unless something else opened up,” Sanderson said Monday morning.
Sanderson, 43, won a pair of Class 1A state championships at Springville in 2016 and 2017, after finishing second in 2015.
He moved on to Linn-Mar, where he posted an 18-39 mark in 2 1/2 seasons before stepping down midway through the 2019-20 season.
That midseason departure was a concern for Mount Vernon athletics director Matt Thede, but not necessarily a red flag.
“It was a flag, but I don’t know what color it was until I talked to everybody involved and got the full story,” Thede said. “All of my questions were answered by all involved.”
Sanderson was one of three finalists for the Mount Vernon position, which was vacated by Matt Haddy, who was hired in April as head football coach at Clear Creek Amana.
The Mustangs were 1-20 last season, averaging just 31.3 points per game and shooting 27.4 percent from the field.
“Our search committee looked at three different things,” Thede said.
“How will the coach meet the current demands of our situation? What does the coach’s vision look like for the future in youth development? Will the coach make the current seniors better?
“You look at those three things, and Nate has a proven track record. Combine that with his success and basketball IQ, and he’ll be a great fit for our program.”
Sanderson owns a career head-coaching record of 199-195. He served as an assistant for Brian Wheatley at North Linn last season, and the Lynx advanced to the state tournament.
“I’m really grateful for the experience at North Linn,” he said. “Not many head coaches would allow me to do as much with the kids as (Wheatley) did.
“One of the most exciting things about Mount Vernon is that it’s a blank slate. Building a youth program and aligning it with the high school program, that’s exciting. And Mount Vernon has the reputation of a very supporting athletics culture. There are a lot of pieces in place.”
Aside from his coaching, Sanderson serves as a mentor to other coaches. His house near Springville is 9 miles away from Mount Vernon.
Senior-to-be McKenzie Rentschler is the Mustangs’ top returning scorer for 2021-22; she averaged 6.6 points per game. Liz Dougherty, also a senior-to-be, added 4.2 points per contest.
“We’re going to give Nate all the time he needs to build this program,” Thede said. “We expect he will make the girls better, and make our coaching staff better.”