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Head coach Matt Fritsche and assistant coach Katie Meister both joined the women’s bas­ketball program this season. (Photo: Carmel Kookogey | Col­legian)

New women’s assistant bas­ketball coach Katie Meister has been preparing to lead a team since she was drawing out fake plays in her dri­veway as a kid.

Meister, who describes her love of bas­ketball as having started with a Little Tikes hoop, is from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. After grad­u­ating high school, she went to Augustana Uni­versity to play Division II bas­ketball, but her expe­rience with the sport goes back much further.

“As soon as I fell in love with [bas­ketball], I would be a little kid drawing out fake plays in my dri­veway and stuff,” she said.

Senior forward Jessica De Gree described the pos­itive impact Meister has already had with the girls on the team.

“Everyone under­stands what she expects, and she’s so chill about it that we don’t want to dis­ap­point her,” De Gree said. “We’re coming from a loud, crazy coach from last year, so it’s good for the team to have someone who’s really stable.”

Meister started coaching at Hillsdale in May 2017. Up until she got she job, she had never heard of Hillsdale College.

“I’m from South Dakota, which is a pretty con­ser­v­ative state,” Meister said. “But when I got the job, all these people came out of the woodwork, and were like ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve heard of that!’”

Post grad­u­ation, Meister spent a year as a vol­unteer coach at the Uni­versity of Mary in Bis­marck, North Dakota. She then went on to coach at Winona State in Min­nesota, which was how she even­tually found Hillsdale.

“[Winona State’s] men’s coach, Todd Eisner, is actually really good friends with Coach Fritsche here,” Meister said. “So I had met Fritsche out recruiting, and he was super nice, and I saw he got this job, and so I had coach Eisener put in a good word for me, and next thing you know I’m on a flight here.”

Head coach Matthew Fritsche described Meister as a steady teammate.

“She doesn’t get super high or super low,” he said. “She has a deep caring and under­standing of what our young women need, and what they need at the time. I’ve only worked with her since May, but I’ve been impressed with her daily.”

De Gree con­firmed that as a player, the change has been healthy.

“She’s so young that we can relate to her,” De Gree said. “Often times she’ll tease us about our game, or just any­thing in the day, and it’s totally fine to tease her back too, so it’s a really healthy coach-player rela­tionship.”

Meister admitted it could have been dif­ficult to enter into a team that has had so many coaching changes in the last few years, as the Chargers have. The team, however, was sur­pris­ingly willing to exper­iment with both her and Fritsche, as they took a dif­ferent approach.

“They’ve been willing to trust our offense and defense, and what we’re trying to do as a team. Even though it’s been a little rocky, they can see when it’s going well, the results, so they’re bought in. Every­where I’ve been, the coach had been there for a while, so this is a new expe­rience, trying to change a team’s phi­losophy, I guess you could say. It’s been chal­lenging, but it’s been really fun. And they’re all awesome, awesome kids,” Meister said.

Meister described her past expe­rience with her own coaches as influ­ential.

“You’re kind of always influ­enced by the people around you, but I’ve always been in love with the sport,” she said. “Obvi­ously all the coaches growing up have some impact on you, good or bad, so you kind of use it or lose it.”

Fritsche said her impact was of the former type.

“I’m lucky to have her — the whole college is lucky to have her,” Fritsche said. “She adds to every­thing that we stand for here, as far as how to treat people and what it means to be a good teammate.”

  • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

    At the end of the day it’s about moti­vating the ladies to play well. We are 6 – 2 in the last 8 games against the strength of our con­ference, so the Coaches are doing a great job and posi­tioning us well for the GMAC tour­nament. Today’s win over Malone-at Malone-was a really great one!