Cleveland, Ohio — The Cleveland State University athletic department announced Tuesday the hiring of new women’s basketball Head Coach Chris Kielsmeier. Kielsmeier sports 20 years of collegiate coaching experience.
Most recently, Kielsmeier spent 10 years as the head coach of Wayne State College’s women’s basketball team. Wayne State is a yearly Division II powerhouse, and Kielsmeier led the program to a 237-72 record during his tenure.
Before coaching at Wayne State, he was the head coach of Howard Payne University women’s basketball for eight years, where he compiled a 179-44 record. Previous to his head coaching tenure, Kielsmeier spent a season as an assistant coach at Howard Payne.
The CSU athletic department held an introductory press conference Thursday for Kielsmeier, where he spoke to media and members of the CSU women’s basketball community.
Kielsmeier discussed his coaching philosophy, the reasons behind his decision to come to CSU and his plans for the program as he begins his coaching tenure.
Kielsmeier often eluded to making his players’ “lung burn” through intense cardio workouts. He said he felt that through the dedication it takes to power through such a workout, a winning spirit is born.
“One thing I am very passionate about with my players is never close doors,” Kielsmeier said. “Always believe that anything is possible and chase it with everything that you have.”
CSU Director of Athletics Mike Thomas said the search committee was looking for a coach who “believed in the holistic development of our student athletes in all areas and does things with integrity.”
As part of that, Kielsmeier mentioned that his players’ success in the classroom is as important as their success on the court. CSU today honored a record 231 student athletes for their academic success, so Kielsmeier will have a lofty bar to uphold. He said that he wants to provide mentorship to his players both on and off the court.
Kielsmeier was questioned on his ability to draw fans to games. In his last two years at Howard Payne, Kielsmeier’s team led the nation in attendance at the Division II level. He said that is an area that needs to be worked on at CSU, and he plans to address it during his tenure.
“It’s not just about winning — you need to win — but it’s a whole lot more than that,” Kielsmeier said. “You need to get people excited about your program and caring about your program, and we’ll go to work on that.”
Kielsmeier said that he was not initially thrilled with the opportunity as CSU because of his success with his previous program, but after speaking with the players in CSU’s program, he was won over. He said that having the returning talent that he does makes his transition easier.
“I have seven returners that sat and said they want to be successful and they want a different culture and they want to chase greatness,” Kielsmeier said.
Kielsmeier’s coaching staff is not yet complete, but updates on those positions are expected in the coming weeks.
Above all else, Kielsmeier said that he is excited for the opportunity to coach at CSU and he is looking forward to guiding the program.
“I wake up everyday and I feel so blessed that I have that opportunity [to coach college basketball].”
Photo by Matthew Johns