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The Antelope

Levinson ready to rejoin the Kearney community

Marty Levinson was formally introduced on Friday. Photo by Traeton Harimon / Antelope Staff

For Marty Levinson, Friday morning was full circle. The former Loper standout was formally introduced as the program’s 22nd head coach at the Health and Sports Center.

“This is God’s work,” Levinson said. “This was always the end goal. This was always a dream of mine, and it just doesn’t come to you until the right time.”

Quickly into his press conference, he thanked his former head coach, Tom Kropp, who was sitting in the front row. Levinson had quite a few stories to tell from his days playing with the Lopers. Levinson played under Kropp from 2003-05, where he went 81-15, and was part of the 2002-03 team that made the Elite Eight of the NCAA Division II Tournament. Some of his former teammates also were in attendance.

The memories of Levinson’s playing days was one of the main talking points during the press conference, which ran for roughly 35 minutes. One of those memories was in pregame warmups, where they were given flip passes right before getting the ball during layup drills. Other teams would be doing windmill dunks and other showstopping scoring tactics on the other end of the floor. During the game, Levinson and his teammates would then look up to the scoreboard to see their team up by twenty or more points, without a dunk being completed by the Lopers.

The success that Levinson experienced as a player has unfortunately withered away. Since the 2020-21 season, the Lopers have gone 29-76 (38.1%), and have failed to reach the MIAA Tournament all four seasons. The Lopers haven’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2016.

As a coach, Levinson has built up quite a bit of success at the junior college level. This past season at Trinity Valley Community College in Athens, Texas, Levinson took the Cardinals to a record of 27-8, and he won the Region XIV Championship and qualified for the NJCAA Tournament. Before his lone season at Trinity Valley, Levinson was at Southern Arkansas University Tech, where he built the program from scratch and had a 94-52 record there, including an NJCAA Tournament seventh place finish there. Levinson’s overall record is 191-94 (.670).

This was the fourth coaching search that athletic director Marc Bauer has conducted in the last two years. Last year, he hired football head coach Ryan Held and women’s basketball coach Drew Johnson. Over the summer, he hired a new cheer coach in Morgan Wadkins-Meyer. Just last week, Levinson was hired to be the new Men’s Basketball coach. In comparison to the other three hires, the hiring process took over a month, during which many players entered the transfer portal.

Bauer said that the search process was much different than searches in the past.

“I think we oftentimes know exactly the coach that we want,” Bauer said. “We were not in that position with this hire. We did not know specifically who we wanted. And so we went through an entire full blown search for this.  Marty rose to the top as we went through. [It] became clearer and clearer as the process went on that he was the right person for the job.”

Levinson signed a three-year contract to be the Lopers head coach. There was no announcement of an assistant coach in the press release, although he said that he was in talks with a high school coach from Omaha to be his assistant.

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