The new Minnesota women’s basketball coaching staff is 50 percent diverse as Head Coach Dawn Plitzuweit brought her entire coaching staff that has been with her at her previous two schools, including two Black assistants. Jason Jeschke (associate HC), Aaron Horn and Ariel Braker (assistants) will join the Gopher coaching staff. The MSR talked to Horn and Braker in separate interviews at the team’s Athletes Village practice facility.
Now at his third school in eight seasons, Aaron Horn has quickly ingrained himself in the community where he resides and works. “I was a part of the city [in West Virginia] and I will do the same here,” explained the first-year Minnesota assistant coach referring to his single-season stint at West Virginia last year.
Once named a Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s “Thirty Under 30” in 2017, the Cleveland, Ohio native first served on Coach Dawn Plitzuweit’s staff at South Dakota in 2016 after three seasons as an assistant at Ursuline (Ohio) College (2013-16).
“[When] I got done playing,” noted Horn, who earned a B.A. in business administration from Toledo in 2012, “I thought, I’ll go into marketing and sales in Chicago or on Madison Avenue. That never worked out. I was in grad school getting my MBA, and started coaching boys, which was cool.”
Horn said he soon discovered that coaching was more rewarding and more fulfilling than being a “Mad Man” advertising exec.
“I think coaching was in my blood, like me being a point guard and my grandfather being a coach,” he continued. “I just always watched him coach. He taught me those things as a player, those lessons I used as a point guard to be able to teach my teammates how to do the right things, what to focus on.
“I was never the type of person that thought about winning by scoring the basketball, but by doing the little things for your teammates,” he pointed out.
Horn first cut his coaching teeth as an AAU head coach in two separate programs, over a six-year span. Then at Ursuline, a Division II school, he helped the school win the 2016 regular season and conference tournament and a Division II tournament berth. Then Plitzuweit hired him at South Dakota, and at West Virginia, and now at Minnesota.
The veteran coach said he wants to be well-rounded, not one-dimensional as Black coaches are sometimes pegged. One of the few Black male assistant coaches in the Big Ten, Horn said he asks himself, “How can I develop my coaching style? How can I get better? How could I be more ingrained with the budget? Can I learn those things…while continuing to grow?”
“I think as a Black male in this profession” coaching women “is a true passion,” said Horn.