LOUISVILLE — Ken Niven was more than a fixture of the Monarch High School boys basketball program. He was the only coach the program has ever had.
At least that was the case until Tuesday when the school tabbed Josh Brenning as successor to Niven, who retired following the most recent season, a campaign in which the veteran coach picked up his 500th win. Those are some big shoes to fill but Brenning says he's ready to take on the challenge.
"I'm extremely excited knowing that I'm going into a situation with a great boss and the support I've already been getting makes me feel like there are a ton of positives and I really haven't found a negative," Brenning said. "I know that coach Niven always ran a great program and what he's done over the last 18 years has set me up for success."
Brenning is 37 years old but has already been coaching for almost 20 years. He has coached both the Vista PEAK boys and Rangeview girls to conference titles, was an assistant at Johnson & Wales University and most recently served as an offensive quality control assistant and assistant video coordinator. He said his basketball background aligns more with the old-school but he has a new-school approach to player relationships, and he prefers to run a fast-paced, up-and-down, pressing and fast-break type of system.
"I know the Coyotes have some good varsity players coming back and their JV program won state last year so we should have some good players," Brenning said. "I met some of the kids today and there are plenty of kids who want to do well, and that's always exciting when the kids are excited about playing basketball."
Brenning went to Arapahoe High School and played on the 1995 state championship runner-up team. After that, he transferred to Smoky Hill. Though he was injured for much of his two years at Smoky Hill, Brenning became friends with then head basketball coach Russ McKinstry, who is now the athletic director at Monarch.
"We're just really thrilled to have Josh join the Monarch athletic family," McKinstry said. "We think he has the leadership qualities, experience and ability that we were looking for in a head coach. We go way back to when I was the head coach at Smoky Hill but Josh still had to go through the process and sell himself to the committee and the principal and he emerged as the strongest candidate as we went through the process."
McKinstry said Monarch received 35 applicants for the vacant boys basketball coaching position and narrowed it down to six finalists before finally deciding on Brenning. The school offered Brenning the job on Tuesday afternoon and he accepted immediately.
"Of all the levels I've been at, high school has always been my lane," Brenning said. "So this is a perfect situation for me."
Over the course of his 37-year career coaching prep basketball, Niven won 510 games.