Kate Achter, the former Clay and Bowling Green State University point guard, played against the St. Bonaventure Bonnies a few times during her four-year career with the Falcons.
But, she never envisioned one day coaching at St. Bonaventure, a school with an enrollment of less than 2,500 students located about 90 minutes south of Buffalo, New York.
“It's kind of in the middle of nowhere,” said Achter, 25. “It's interesting to recruit at St. Bonaventure. It's not near a big city. It's not like Bowling Green or Toledo and there's not a ton of excitement going on.”
Last season was Achter's first year as an assistant coach with the Bonnies under 12th-year head coach Jim Crowley, the 2009 Atlantic 10 Conference Coach of the Year. The team finished 21-12 and 9-5 in the A10, which includes Xavier University in Cincinnati and the University of Dayton.
Achter equated her first season as an assistant at St. Bonaventure to being a freshman in college.
“It's like a roller coaster, where you have highs and lows,” said Achter, BGSU's career leader in assists and free throws. “It's the closest thing I've found to playing basketball, as far as adrenaline is concerned. It was so much fun to be a part of stuff that goes on behind the scenes. Maybe I can't get out there and play anymore, but I can contribute to the game plan and help teach kids the fundamentals and learn how the game should be played.”
Achter was a volunteer assistant coach at Delta High School and a graduate assistant in the BGSU athletics development office last spring when she went online to search for a college coaching position.
“I relied on this NCAA website where all universities are required to post stuff,” she said. “I knew we had played St. Bonaventure three times before when I was at BG. I thought, ‘It's a little far away and I don't know if (Crowley) would remember me.’
“I was still keeping in touch with (coach) Curt Miller at Bowling Green. He said the coach at St. Bonaventure was looking for someone. On a Sunday night, coach Miller said coach Crowley wanted me to send him my stuff. The next morning we had a phone conversation and I had an interview on Wednesday. By the following week, I was headed to New York.”
Achter, who was reached by telephone this week during her recruiting trip to Cincinnati, said Crowley hired her as a third assistant, where she could do “a little bit of everything,” particularly on the recruiting end.
“The cool thing about working for coach Crowley is he gives us a ton of responsibility as assistants,” Achter said. “He's very well-respected in the mid-major communities - the MAC, Atlantic 10 - for his ability to teach assistants. He lets us in on practice planning and all the recruiting. When I was hired, he specifically wanted to re-do the recruiting atmosphere at St. Bonaventure. He wanted me to come in with a plan and organize it a little bit and get a head start on the 2012 recruiting class.”
Achter said she will be on recruiting trail from July 4-16 before coming back to Toledo for a few days. She will then continue recruiting from July 21-31.
“We're trying to get into (recruiting) Toledo because it is a hotbed for basketball,” said Achter, who added that her previous experience as a college student-athlete helps when she talks to high school players and their families.
“I can relate to what kids are going through,” Achter said. “I know that when we're allowed to make calls to recruits for the first time, if I call at 6 at night they're going to be annoyed and not want to talk. Being young and having that perspective, that helps me tremendously. You have to talk to parents, AAU coaches, high school coaches. There are so many people involved in the process, it's so hectic and it can be very frustrating for the players and the coaches.
“It's very unique. I love it. It's challenging. I continue to learn about myself as a person. I get to help mold kids into adults and be there for the times when their parents aren't, and I still get to be around basketball. My body aches for days after we practice. If I don't work myself into shape by jogging and stretching, I get real sore.”
Achter said she wants to become a head coach some day, but she still has a lot to learn before even thinking about taking that next step.
“Right now it's hard to conceive ever being ready to be in that position,” she said. “Ten years down the road I might be able to say I'm ready. The more experience you have, the more you are prepared to move up in your field. I'm really happy and lucky to be in the position I'm in.”