By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
PORTALES — Kim Falkenhagen is from the upper Midwest, but she’s no stranger to this part of the world.
The 33-year-old Falkenhagen was named Eastern New Mexico University’s volleyball coach on Tuesday. She replaces longtime coach and current athletic director Mike Maguire, who stepped down from coaching after six years in a dual role.
The Saginaw, Mich., native spent three seasons on Tony Graystone’s staff at West Texas A&M, helping the Lady Buffs go 100-8 while reaching the national quarterfinals in 2000 and 2002 and the national round of 16 in 2001.
She’s anxious to get going with the Zias.
“When I saw this job (advertised), I thought I’d look into it since I’m familiar with the area,” said Falkenhagen, who spent the past four seasons as head coach at Division II Bemidji (Minn.) State.
Her record at Bemidji was 35-93, including 7-25 in 2006, but she and Maguire said the program there has been underfunded.
“She’s (been) in a tough situation,” said Maguire, who won nearly 400 matches in his 20 seasons at the ENMU helm. “I think it’ll be a good fit for us because she knows the area and the conference.”
Falkenhagen, who plans to be in Portales sometime next week, acknowledged she’ll get a late start in recruiting.
“Hopefully we can get things rolling again,” she said. “I’m real excited to get down to Eastern. They’ve had success in the past and the program has a lot of potential.”
Assistant coach Daniel Burkert returns for his second season at ENMU.
“He’s real eager to get some things done,” said Falkenhagen, who as a player helped Northern Michigan win an NCAA Division II national championship in 1994 and reach the national finals the following year. “I think it’s going to work out well.”
Maguire said there were about 35 applicants for the position. Falkenhagen was one of three finalists.
“The field kind of narrowed itself,” he said. “But there were some quality candidates.”