Sam Tudor Steps Down as Bigfork Boys Basketball Coach

Tudor led Vikings to back-to-back Class B state championships in 2018 and 2019

By Andy Viano
Coach Sam Tudor talks to his players on Jan. 18, 2019 during a game between Bigfork and St. Ignatius. The Vikings won 72-49 to give Tudor 100 career wins. Justin Franz | Flathead Beacon

Bigfork Boys Basketball Coach Sam Tudor has resigned his position, stepping away just over a month after the Vikings won a second consecutive Class B state championship.

Tudor informed Activities Director Matt Porrovecchio of his decision on Wednesday, although the fifth-year coach said he had been contemplating the move since the end of the 2019 season.

“It’s kind of been mixed emotions around here, but I tried to make clear that my reasons for resigning are personal and that Bigfork’s been great to me,” Tudor said. “Talk about a great run; and I want to thank the kids, mainly, and of course my assistant coaches Joe Pitts and Jim Epperly, and Matt (Porrovecchio) and (Bigfork principal) Mark (Hansen) have been great, too.”

Tudor, 42, enjoyed remarkable on-court success as Bigfork’s coach, going 111-14 overall and leading the Vikes to the 2018 and 2019 titles, along with another title game appearance in 2016. The 2017-18 Vikings were a perfect 24-0, and his four-year starter at point guard, Anders Epperly, set Montana’s all-time career assist record this year.

“I think it’s pretty awesome as a coach when you can walk away and you can look and see the impact you had,” Porrovecchio said. “The most important thing is you’ve left an impact on people’s lives but (with the state titles) you’re stamped, whether you want to or not, in the school’s history. You’re part of something special … He’ll always be part of Bigfork basketball, and not every coach can say that.”

A Cascade High School grad, Tudor arrived in Bigfork eight years ago and first coached as an assistant under Kurt Paulson, now the head coach at Carroll College. Tudor stepped away from the program during the 2013-14 season, only to be offered the head coaching job the following year. When Tudor was hired in 2014, he was the fifth head coach of the program in five seasons and, for five years at least, provided stability at the top.

Tudor is an English teacher at Bigfork and said he plans to remain in that role. His wife, Schulyer, was Bigfork’s head volleyball coach before resigning that position following the 2018 season. Asked if he planned to return to coaching at some point in the future, Tudor responded, “Definitely.”

“I haven’t left the sport of basketball,” Tudor said. “What we can do as coaches through the means of basketball, for these young men, is just phenomenal. I can’t say enough about what the sport has given me.”

Tudor is the latest in a number of coaching departures from Bigfork this school year, as the school had already lost its football, volleyball, boys and girls soccer, and girls basketball coaches. The departures share no apparent connection, although Porrovecchio pointed to the ever-increasing commitment required of high school coaches as one possible factor.

“The job (of a head coach) is hard,” Porrovecchio said. “It’s gotten significantly more challenging, even from just the administrative side, managing the teams and the expectations. Being a coach for five years (like Tudor), that’s like coaching 10. You’re putting in countless hours in the summer, the competitiveness has increased, and you’ve got to keep grinding.”

Porrovecchio returned to the activities director job before the start of the 2018-19 school year. He had previously held the position beginning in 2009 before taking on other administrative duties. The school has already hired replacement head coaches in football (Patrick Munson), volleyball (Ariel Stallknecht) and girls basketball (Cortnee Gunlock).

“It’s sad to see people go but you get great opportunities in these situations,” Porrovecchio said. “I think we’ve got really great things coming for our kids.”

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