As Marian University’s new women’s basketball Head Coach Katie Gearlds talked at her press conference on Wednesday afternoon, she made one thing very clear. No matter what, Gearlds was going to take the time to get to know the players so they can trust her and know that she will do anything to make them successful both on the court, and off of it.
Then, Coach Gearlds let her humor peep through.
“I want them to be able to trust me,” said Gearlds with a smile on her face. “Because I know eventually, they’ll start to hate me. I was a player, I know what is said in the locker rooms about the coaches.”
The Marian Knights introduced a new coach, but a face that is familiar to basketball fans in central Indiana. In her prep days Katie Gearlds was a standout at Beech Grove, finishing her senior season with 30.1 points, grabbing 2003 Miss Basketball honors and leading the Hornets to the 2003 Class 3A State championship. Gearlds followed that up with a successful run at Purdue, where the young star lead the Boilermakers to two Big Ten Tournament championships, an Elite Eight berth in 2007, and was named all Big-Ten three times.
Gearlds would continue her basketball career in the WNBA (from 2007-09) and playing European basketball, with her latest stop being last season in Portugal where she helped Alges to league and cup championship titles. Now though, the 28-year old is just happy to be back in Indiana, where she will be taking on the first head coaching job of her career at Marian.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Gearlds about coaching Marian. “A dream opportunity for me, this is something that I couldn’t pass up. This is something that I’m not sure I expected it going in, and I knew I wanted to put my name out there. Fortunately for me, I must have had some great contacts and done well in the interviews.”
Gearlds will be replacing Todd Bacon as the head coach, but Bacon had some success during his ten-year tenure with the program. Bacon finished with a 177-117 record over that time-span, and helped guide the team to the program’s first appearance in the NAIA Division II National Tournament in 2010-11. Bacon however was an assistant with the Marian baseball squad, and will be assuming the position of manager this spring.
For Gearlds though, she believes that her former playing days will be able to help her on the court, similarly as it did for a fellow basketball star from the state of Indiana.
“I feel like I was never the fastest player, or could jump the highest,” said Gearlds.
“But I was always in the position where I had to think the game. It is sort of, ala Larry Bird. Not the fastest, but I mean he did a good job with the Pacers. I like to think that I would be able to do the same thing because I like to think the game. It will be a little bit different angle, I think I can take these young women and teach them about the game of basketball, the game of life, and help them grow as people.”