In my previous column, I introduced our new faculty members at Valley City State University. It is now my pleasure to introduce our new staff.
Brandon Bouma joins our football coaching staff as a graduate assistant. He graduated from Presentation College with a bachelor’s degree in business–sports administration. He was a member of the Presentation football team from 2013–17 and earned two NAIA Scholar-Athlete awards and three NSAA Academic All-Conference awards. For the past two summers, he worked with the Minnesota Twins and Delaware North as a concessions supervisor. Brandon is enrolled as a student in our Master of Arts in Teaching program.
Also joining our football coaching staff as a graduate assistant is Jacob Crawford. Jacob attended Montana Tech of the University of Montana in Butte on a full-tuition scholarship, earning a bachelor’s degree in business and information technology with an emphasis in marketing. He played in the USA Football All-American Bowl Game in Savannah, Ga. Following graduation, he played and coached football in Australia. “Tech,” Jacob’s miniature labradoodle, is a big part of his life. Jacob is a student in the Teaching and Technology Concentration of our Master of Education program.
Julie Crist joins VCSU as a member of our building services team. She and her husband moved to Tower City two years ago. Julie enjoys baking and cooking. Although I have not yet had a chance to sample her treats, I am sure her culinary arts degree guarantees a big smile for anyone fortunate enough to get a tasting! She also enjoys sewing, reading, and loves anything to do with fitness and strength building. I also happen to know that she is an excellent dog trainer.
Like Julie, LaVonne Hites has joined our building services team. LaVonne is the fourth oldest of 13 children. She has been married 34 years and has three beautiful daughters and seven grandchildren. She and her husband were dairy farmers for 14 years. Originally from Minnesota, LaVonne proudly declares that she loves North Dakota!
Shannon Hone joins our team as assistant registrar. A VCSU alumna with a bachelor’s degree in biology, Shannon grew up in Valley City. She enjoys traveling, gardening, music, the outdoors, and taking care of her three cats.
Rebekah Rye, our assistant athletic trainer, graduated from NDSU with a master’s degree in advanced athletic training. Originally from the Sioux Falls, S.D. area, Rebekah enjoys running, hiking, and camping. She has two sisters: one is a physical therapist and the other is the owner of a cake shop in Boston, Mass. Rebekah enjoys her six-month old Siberian husky puppy named Kaia.
Chad Smith, from Centerville, Mont., is a new assistant football coach. He attended Rocky Mountain College to study exercise science and coaching and play football. Following his college football career, Chad coached for four more years at Rocky Mountain College until he was hired as the head freshman coach at Williston High School. In 2015 Chad moved to Bismarck, where he coached for the University of Mary for two years. He also coached the Bismarck Bucks professional indoor football team this past spring.
Jordan Skaar relocated from his hometown of Trempealeau, Wis. (population 1,200), to join VCSU as our assistant women’s basketball coach. He was a college baseball pitcher at the University of Dubuque in Iowa. His professional background includes coaching basketball and baseball the past seven years and giving private basketball and baseball lessons the past five years. Jordan enjoys sports and the outdoors, including golf, fishing, hunting, softball, baseball, and other endeavors.
Dina Splettstoesser, also a member of our building services team, moved to Valley City in 2009. She has been married to her husband, Marvin, for 17 wonderful years and has four children and has “four of the greatest grandchildren anybody could ask for.” Dina was born and raised in California. Her family also includes three dogs, five gigantic goldfish, and a 13-lined ground squirrel named Alvin.
A lifelong resident of Valley City, Steven Thomas rounds out our friendly building services team. He graduated as a Hi-Liner in 2007 and became a Viking that same fall. A musician, Steven plays several instruments, including guitar, drums, and trumpet. He performed for several years as Frankie Valli in a touring Four Seasons tribute show, and perhaps you will remember him as a radio personality on Sundays on KOVC.
Vanessa Keeler-Johnson joins VCSU as women’s head basketball coach, replacing Jill DeVries, now our new athletic director. A native of Hartford, S.D., Keeler-Johnson comes to VCSU from Detroit Lakes Public Schools (Minn.) where she worked one year as head girls basketball coach and elementary reading specialist. Previously Keeler-Johnson was an assistant women’s basketball coach at Minnesota State University Moorhead (MSUM) for three seasons. She played collegiate basketball for four seasons, including two at South Dakota State University and two at the University of Sioux Falls. Vanessa graduated from the University of Sioux Falls with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and earned a master’s in educational leadership from MSUM. Keeler-Johnson and her wife, Heather, have two sons: DJ (age 11) and Elliott (1).
Thank you for joining me in welcoming our new members to both the VCSU family and the greater Valley City community. They bring a wealth of experience, energy, and value to Valley City; they are another reason why it is a great day to be a Viking!