Loyola’s new women’s basketball head coach Kate Achter said she’s been in a gym for as long as she can remember. It’s no wonder she learned to dribble a basketball before she was even out of diapers.
Coaching is in Achter’s bloodline. Her father was a dedicated high school girls’ basketball coach for 25 years, and her aunt and grandfather were also basketball coaches.
Achter said she immediately fell in love with coaching.
“I think the misconception with coaching is that it’s just strictly X’s and O’s and working out and doing those kinds of things,” said Achter. “But being a basketball coach, it’s about so much more. It’s about managing your relationships and helping young women grow and really get the most out of their experience in college.”
Throughout her six year coaching career, Achter has compiled an impressive resume. She spent five years at St. Bonaventure University, where she worked her way up to an associate head coach alongside Jim Crowley. Achter and Crowley virtually rebuilt the program in New York and saw three postseason berths, highlighted by a NCAA Sweet 16 run in 2012.
Before coming to Loyola, the Oregon, Ohio, native spent a year as an assistant coach at Xavier University.
As the new head coach for Loyola’s women’s basketball program, Achter, 30, will inherit a program in need of a lot of rebuilding. Over the past three months, Loyola’s women’s basketball program has made national headlines after allegations of player mistreatment by former head coach Sheryl Swoopes and her staff surfaced. Swoopes saw 10 of her 12 possible returners ask to leave the program before Loyola announced on July 3 that she would not return to the team either.
Assistant coaches Jeanine Wasielewski and Mahogany Green also left the program. Sophomore guards Brandi Segars and Citinau Negatu, assistant coach Kesha Watson and Director of Women’s Basketball Operations Amanda VanZeben are the only remains of Swoopes’ program. It’s unknown whether Watson and VanZeben will remain part of the program moving forward.
“You can look at the glass half empty or half full,” said Achter. “I’m going to inherit a roster that is fairly young and I think that’s a great thing. Building a program requires a lot of people to be flexible and willing to learn new things and what better way to do it then when you have a roster full of young kids. And speaking with the veteran players, I know they’re really eager for a new [and] fresh star.”
Crowley, now the women’s basketball head coach at Providence College said he believes in Achter’s ability to restore the integrity of Loyola’s women’s basketball program. He said Achter is a fierce competitor and ever since he saw her in college, playing for his opponent, he knew he wanted her on his team.
“[Kate] made sure we were better — it was a no-brainer to hire her because of her strong work ethic, passion and determination, which spreads off on people,” said Crowley.
Crowley said Achter’s success as an All-American guard at Bowling Green State University gives her the ability to share her experiences and put those feelings into retrospect for her players.
Achter said one of her priorities is to repair the way Loyola’s women’s basketball has been perceived and the lack of trust some community members have in the program. She said she’s planning on getting her team involved in community outreach.
“We’re going to be a blue-collar program,” Achter said. “I’m going to coach smart players … We’re going to turn things around, but stick with us because it’s not like we’re going to have our bumps and bruises. But I’m going to do everything within my power to change the perception of Loyola’s women’s basketball and I’m going to do it with dignity and I hope it’s going to be something that Rambler fans can be proud of.”
As for long term goals, Achter said she wants to build a culture that is going to withstand adversity, but that’s going to have a championship mentality in the end.
Although this is her first solo head coaching job, Achter said she believes she has the experience and the mentors to help her find success, and that she knows she has a strong support system backing her.
Achter’s first order of business is to get on campus and workout with her team. On Saturday, she plans to hit the recruiting trail for her 2017 signing class. She said she hopes to have a set roster and coaching staff by the first week of August.