Gophers’ Kelsey Steinhagen blazes trail as female coach in Big Ten men’s basketball
Thanks for checking out Basketball Across Minnesota, my weekly look at some of the state’s best hoops stories, from preps to pros. —Marcus Fuller
When Kelsey Steinhagen applied to join the Gophers men’s basketball team two years ago, she didn’t think she was setting a precedent.
There were no women with coaching experience sitting on the bench of a Big Ten men’s basketball team, no women in anything other than an administrative role, until she was hired. for the quality control position on Ben Johnson’s first staff.
“She’s been great,” Johnson said. “You want to have a balance and people who are good at what they do, whether it’s an all-male staff or an inclusive staff incorporating women in different coaching roles. I just wanted putting together the best staff that was going to help me get better.”
Steinhagen had extensive assistant coaching experience in women’s basketball with eight seasons at the Division III level at Dubuque College in Iowa and Menlo College in California, including time as an associate head coach.
The U’s quality control position (also filled by ex-Gophers star Rachel Banham with Lindsay Whalen’s women’s team) includes scouting and helping Johnson and his assistants prepare for the match, as well as recruiting and administrative tasks.
A former 6-2 Wisconsin-Stout All-America, Steinhagen was first introduced to coaching while spending part of her senior year working at Menomonie High School. Specializing in clothing design, she was drawn to the coaching profession after her professional playing career in Australia.
After nearly a decade of trying to rise through the ranks, Steinhagen could only dream of being on the Division I staff, let alone the Big Ten.
“I’m grateful to have had this opportunity,” Steinhagen said. “I feel like I learned a lot in the last two years considering it was my first time playing men’s basketball and being at such a high level. You do a lot of the same things , but it’s on a larger scale.”
On match days, Steinhagen spends a lot of time making sure scouting visits run as seamlessly as possible. On the coaching side, she follows opponents’ games and plays calls, and helps Johnson with the notes he has gathered before the game.
Before practice begins, she is the only woman in the Gophers boardroom to meet Johnson, assistants Dave Thorson, Marcus Jenkins and Jason Kemp, director of basketball operations Ryan Livingston and video coordinator Josh Adel. .
“It’s pretty cool to be a part of that,” Steinhagen said. “Being able to interact with the [players] every day is so cool because we have great guys. That’s something that I’ve really enjoyed about coaching on the women’s side, is being on the pitch every day, building those relationships. So I’m still able to do that even though I’m not technically a coach on the pitch. I am able to do it and I always participate in different ways.”
A native of Clinton, Wis., she was known as Kelsey Duoss while winning a Wisconsin state championship in high school in 2003. Her connection to the Gophers comes from her husband, Chet, a graduate of the U. He was a scout team player when Lindsay Whalen played for the Gophers in the early 2000s. And Steinhagen’s mother-in-law, Janet Rogde, was a member of the Gophers basketball team from 1976-77.
“When my husband and I wanted to move back to the Midwest, I started applying for jobs,” Steinhagen said. “This one was available, so I said, ‘Why not? And here I am.”
Times have changed with women being more prominent in men’s basketball. Tamara Moore, a former Lynx player, was the only female head coach of a men’s varsity hoops team in the United States when she was hired at Mesabi Range College in Minnesota two years ago.
The NBA’s first full-time female assistant was hired in 2001, but there were as many as 11 female assistants in the league in 2019-20.
There was only one assistant on the Division I men’s basketball team in 2018-19. But more recently, there were five assistants on DI men’s teams and 15 overall across all three divisions in 2021-22, according to NCAA data.
Steinhagen and Georgia video coordinator Julie Danielson, former Wisconsin graduate manager, are the only women with non-administrative job titles in men’s basketball in the six major DI conferences. But five women occupy director of operations positions at this level.
“There are a lot more opportunities for women to get involved in different ways, even if you don’t consider yourself a coach,” Steinhagen said. “You can still be involved in the sport and have an impact on the players.”
Five Fuller’s Bullets
Bradley Cimperman, Hamline
Woodbury’s second set a school record Monday with 51 points on 16 of 28 goals, including 8 of 15 on three and 11 of 12 at the foul line. The exclamation point in the win over Gustavus came in the dying seconds with a faux pump, three turnovers.
Dawson Garcia, Gopher
The 6-11 transfer to North Carolina and the former Prior Lake star matched his career-high 28 points in last week’s upset at Ohio State, which was the Big Ten’s first victory this season for the Gophers.
Kole Hanson, Holy Family
The junior guard plays on the same team as 6-11 rookie Butler Boden Kapke, but he leads the team in scoring and exploded for 44 points in Monday’s win over Minnehaha Academy.
Gianna Kneepkens, Utah
The Duluth native and sophomore guard was important for the Utes with a team-high 20 points and seven rebounds in last week’s 80-79 win over No. 14 Arizona to stay tied for the lead Pac-12 standings, leading into Friday’s game. at No. 4 Stanford.
Alyssa Ustby, North Carolina
The Rochester junior recorded a career-high 18 rebounds in North Carolina’s win over No. 11 rival North Carolina State last week. She leads the team with 9.3 rebounds per game.
5,000 – Seating capacity for men’s and women’s basketball planned for new arena plans that St. Thomas announced Tuesday after receiving a $75 million donation.
2,000 – The career points mark was reached this month by Addi Mack of Minnehaha Academy, Max Shikenjanski of Stillwater, Owen Leach of Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton, Taryn Hamling of Grand Rapids and Buay Koak of Lyle-Pacelli .
19.2 — Points per playoff game (including four WNBA title runs) for Lynx legend Maya Moore, who officially retired from basketball this week.
13 – Wins this season with an unbeaten record for Rochester Community & Technical College women, ranked the No. 1 junior varsity team in the nation for Division III.
Basketball Across Minnesota will be published weekly on starttribune.com. Don’t be a stranger on Twitter after reading, because discussing these stories makes them even more fun to share. Thanks Marcus (@Marcus_R_Fuller on Twitter)