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.”