Chris Klassen, who spent the last two seasons as the assistant women’s basketball coach at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, has been named the next head coach of the SUNY Canton women’s basketball program, as announced by Director of Athletics Randy B. Sieminski on Monday.
Klassen helped guide Knox to an overall record of 29-22 overall and a 21-15 mark in the competitive Midwest Conference during his two years as an assistant with the Prairie Fire. The team finished fourth in the conference during both seasons as they made the conference tournament during the 2019-20 season.
“Chris has a vast knowledge and experience of coaching winning basketball,” Sieminski said. “It showed throughout the interview process and has throughout his career. He is driven, committed, knowledgeable, personable and professional. He has experience at nearly every level of the game and quickly rose to the top of a very competitive applicant pool. Not only has Chris shown the ability to win as an assistant at Knox and Pima Community College, but also as a head coach at the high school and travel basketball levels. He has the ability to connect with his student-athletes on and off the court, and has a strong track record in recruiting. People will be surprised to see how quickly he moves our program forward.”
At Knox, Klassen played a key role in the Prairie Fire’s recruiting efforts, conducted all opponent playbooks and scouts, assisted in guard and post development, and created and ran the team’s preseason strength and conditioning programs. He also helped three players earn all-conference honors (one First Team, two Second Team). In addition, Klassen was an assistant strength and conditioning coach for all sports at Knox.
Klassen assisted with camps for local area youth, game day management for other campus sports and created all media graphics for the women’s basketball team’s social media accounts among other duties.
Prior to Knox, Klassen spent eight years as an assistant basketball coach at Pima Community College, one on the men’s side, before spending the next seven seasons as women’s assistant. As an assistant to women’s coach Todd Holthaus the Aztecs earned a third-place finish at the NJCAA Division II National Tournament in 2016, won an NJCAA Region I, Division II title in 2016 and appeared in the Region I, Division II championship game in each season.
Before moving to the collegiate ranks Klassen was the head coach at his alma matter, Palo Verde High School, in Tucson, Arizona from 2009-2011 where he went 41-20. In 2010, his team went 24-7 with a state final four appearance.
“I am extremely grateful and excited for the opportunity to join the Roo family as the next head women’s basketball coach at SUNY Canton!” Klassen said. “My family and I are looking forward to our move to Canton and becoming a part of the amazing community. I would like to thank Randy Sieminski and the rest of the search committee for their trust and belief in me to lead the program and allowing me to be a part of a place that feels like home. I look forward to being able to mentor, coach and inspire our players and lead the program to new heights!”
Klassen graduated from Palo Verde High School and played at William Penn University, an NAIA school in Oskaloosa, Iowa where he earned a basketball scholarship and was a three-year starter. He scored over 1,000 points in his career and ranks in the individual top 10 in William Penn history in steals, three-pointers made and three-point percentage.
Klassen graduated from William Penn with a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education K-12 Physical Education. Klassen spent 14 years combined as a physical education teacher in the Tucson Unified School District in Arizona, one year as an exercise science teacher and one as the Youth Sports Director at the Ott Family YMCA.
Klassen and his wife, Katie also created and manage two girls AAU travel organizations. The Tucson Rattlers (AZ), founded in 2012 and the Galesburg Express (IL), founded in 2019.
Chris resides in Canton with his wife Katie, daughter Calie, and son Trey. He officially begins his job duties on September 1, 2020.
Photo Courtesy SUNY Canton AthleticsD3 NAC SUNY Canton