Girls Varsity Basketball
Columbus North girls basketball assistant coach RaNae Isaak will receive a special award from the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association, it was announced Monday (March 30).
Isaak will receive a 2020 Point Guard College Transformational Coach Award as presented by the IBCA. This is the fourth year for the award, which are presented to coaches coaches who are respected by their players and fellow coaches for their dedication, positive approach and integrity on and o? the court.
Isaak is one of two coaches to be honored with the PGC Transformational Coach Award for this year. Jim Merlie, a boys basketball assistant at Speedway, will receive a similar award.
Point Guard College is a corporate partner of the IBCA.
Isaak recently completed her 14th season as a girls basketball assistant coach at Columbus North, helping guide the Bull Dogs to a 16-9 record. The fact that Isaak was able to coach at all during 2019-2020, however, in many ways was a miracle.
In the spring of 2019, Isaak suffered from repeated muscle-tensing episodes in her left arm and leg that ultimately were diagnosed last May as result of a brain tumor. She continued to work with the Columbus North program through the June summer workouts before having brain surgery to remove the tumor on July 12 at Ascension St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis.
The surgery left Isaak with no ability to move her left side and an initial prognosis that she may be unable to walk for an extended period. However, thanks to her perseverance in a rehab program at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana, Isaak walked out of the facility on Aug. 3 and returned to her life as an engineer at Cummins, Inc., a basketball coach at Columbus North, an MBA student at Indiana University and a wife and step-mother to two college-age women.
She was honored by the Indiana Pacers for her recovery on Jan. 17 at halftime of the Pacers’ 116-114 home victory against Minnesota at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
“When you learn you have a brain tumor, it’s quite amazing what goes through your head,” Isaak said during an interview on WRTV-Channel 6 at that Pacers' game. “You don’t know if things are ever going to be back to normal or how long it’s going to last. I mean, everything is so dependent on the situation. Having the trust in the people (working with you) helps you make it through.”
Dr. Charles Kulwin, a neurosurgeon with Goodwin Campbell Brain and Spine, described Isaak’s recovery as remarkable.
“When RaNae woke up and was having trouble as expected (after surgery), she believed in us when we told her it’s all going to get better,” Dr. Kulwin said. “Most importantly, the strength and will she had from Day 1 when she woke up, to say, ‘I’m going to get all of this back,’ it’s just been amazing.”
Isaak, 38, has been a coach in the Columbus North girls program since 2006 when she moved to Indiana after earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering at Idaho State University. She coached four seasons with then-CN coach Debbie Marr, then has remained on staff for the past 10 seasons with CN coach Pat McKee.
Columbus North has posted a 274-78 record during Isaak’s 14 seasons on staff. In the past 10 seasons, the Bull Dogs have gone 217-50 with seven Conference Indiana championships, six sectional titles, four regional crowns, three semi-state trophies and the 2015 Class 4A state championship. The Bull Dogs also were Class 4A state runners-up in 2012 and 2016 as well as a final four team in 2017.
McKee knew quickly that Isaak was someone he wanted to retain in the Columbus North program when he was reforming the Bull Dogs’ coaching staff in April 2010. Isaak is the lone holdover from the previous staff.
“RaNae brings a passion and focused intensity to everything she does,” McKee said. “I felt that instantly when I met her, and I knew we not only wanted to have her stay in the CNHS program, we want her to have an expanded role. Ever since, I have seen the energy and perspective she brings to our players virtually every day. We have had many successes over the past decade, and RaNae has been an integral contributor to all them.”
Emily Kim has known Isaak throughout her tenure at Columbus North, dating to when Kim’s sister Betsy also was a Bull Dogs’ player. Betsy Kim is a 2008 CNHS graduate, and Emily Kim is a 2016 CNHS graduate.
“I have watched RaNae coach and been coached by her at many levels,” Emily Kim said. “Although her coaching roles have changed over the years, one thing has remained constant – her ability to push players toward the greatness she knew each of us had. RaNae set high expectations for us as player and even higher expectations for us as young women. RaNae’s coaching help me accomplish great things on the court. More importantly, her coaching made me a better person off the court.”
A 2000 graduate of American Falls High School in Idaho, Isaak was a starter on a basketball team posted a four-year record of 90-16, placed third in the Idaho state tournament her first three seasons and won the Idaho Class A-2 state championship with a 23-5 finish when she was a senior.
Isaak also played golf and volleyball in high school, and she later was a four-year NCAA Division I golfer at Idaho State. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Idaho State in 2004 and 2006, respectively. She also served as a graduate assistant coach for Idaho State women’s golf in 2005-06. She is on track to receive her master’s in business administration this spring from IU.
Isaak and her husband, Ron Patberg, live in Columbus. She is the step-mother to Ali and Kenzie.
The PGC Transformational Coach Award typically is presented at the IBCA’s annual clinic during April, but this year’s clinic has been postponed from the original April 24-25 dates. Isaak will receive the actual award on a date to be determined.
PHOTO: Columbus North girls basketball assistant coach RaNae Isaak will receive a 2020 Point Guard College Transformational Coach Award as presented by the IBCA.