Meet Emily Cline: Iowa meets Illinois
By John Ring
Emily Cline isn’t exactly at home in Galesburg but she’s close.
For Emily Cline, Iowa is home. Iowa is everything.
She’s a native of Farmington, Iowa. She was all-conference in basketball and softball at Cornell College. Later becoming a student assistant in 2000. After emigrating to Pennsylvania and Sewanee (Tennessee) she came back to Iowa as an assistant coach at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa. “I pretty much love everything about Iowa. I think it was a great place to grow up and I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything. The best thing about Iowa,” added Cline, “is the friendliness of the people of Iowa.”
And now, Emily Cline is the new Knox College womens basketball coach.
Cline was hired to rejuvenate a struggling program. Actually, to say “struggling” is kind. The Prairie Fire finished last season with a 3-20 record, winning just one game (1-15) in the Midwest Conference. It’s the same record they had two years earlier.
“I think our first goal is to be better every day,” said Coach Cline. “If we are a better team on the second day of practice than we were on the first, then that is success. We need to be competitive in every game we play. Being fundamentally sound and playing solid defense are two goals we will have going into this season.”
It wasn’t just that Knox was close to Iowa that appealed to Cline in applying for the job. “First and foremost, I was impressed with the academic reputation of Knox. Also, I enjoy coaching Division III student athletes. I feel Division III is what is right about college athletics. I was also impressed with the Athletic Director (Chad Eisele) and his vision for the athletic department. I think it’s a great and exciting time to be a part of Knox athletics.”
Illinois girls basketball would seem to be a Mecca for recruiting basketball players and the fact isn’t lost on Coach Cline. “There’s a great deal of girls basketball talent in Illinois and the surrounding areas. I will work hard to recruit locally and state wide to help rebuild the Knox womens basketball program. Also, I will work to recruit quality student athletes to make us more competitive.”
Cline then elaborated on recruiting. “Good recruiting starts with a lot of hard work and spending every time on recruiting. You have to identify quality student athletes who would be a good fit at Knox, that is the key. Persistence and getting out on the recruiting trail are the keys to good recruiting as well.”
She will be assisted next season by Ashley Sims, who was an assistant under former coach Wendy Rogers. Cline said she had spoken with the returning seniors on the team as well. “They can be a big part in turning around Knox womens basketball.”
Cline also needs the other returning players to buy into her program, a fact not lost on her. “I think female athletes need to know that you care about them as a person first before you can get them to buy into your system. Once they know you care about them it will be easier to get them to buy into your system. Also, being prepared and knowledgeable about what you are teaching helps your players buy into your system.”
Asked what the best method is for motivating players, Cline replied, “letting your players have ownership in the team and making it their own. If your players feel they are an important part of the team they will be much more motivated and they will work hard to make it the best team it can be. Also, if you can get your players to the point where they will do anything in their power not to let their teammates down, then motivation will take care of itself.”
Knox returns just one senior next season in Hayle Gosnell, a reserve guard from DeKalb. Cline will probably build the team around junior Kate Moon, who averaged 7.7 points and 6.5 rebounds a game and sophomore Madi Hanna, who was impressive as a freshman last season. Hanna led the team in scoring (12.3 points a game) and averaged 6.3 rebounds as well. “I think there are some quality players returning,” said Cline, “but at this point I can’t really give a fair assessment because all I’ve seen is film.”
Knox will have five newcomers this season; four freshmen and one junior college transfer.
The Prairie Fire’s long dormant womens basketball program definitely needs a shot in the arm. And Knox is hoping it comes from Cline and her Iowa roots.
Five Questions for Emily Cline
1. What drives you crazy as a basketball coach?
“When players do not work to improve their fundamental skills.”
2. What’s the best feeling you get as a basketball coach?
“Knowing you made a difference in a kid’s life is the best feeling you can get as a coach.”
3. What basketball coaches do you admire and why?
“There are many basketball coaches I admire like John Wooden and Pat Summitt but I would say I admire the coaches I have played for and worked under even more. I have been extremely blessed to play and work for a lot of great coaches. But if I had to pick one coach I admire it would be Dickie McCarthy, the head coach I worked for at Sewanee, the University of the South. Coach McCarthy is a great coach who taught me a lot of what I know. More importantly, he is a great person who does things the right way and cares about his players.”
4. Where do you see the womens basketball program at Knox in three years?
“I hope that Knox womesn basketball will be competitive in the Midwest Conference within three years and on its way to being competitive on a national scale. Also, I hope that it will be a well respected basketball program.”
5. In a perfect world, what kind of basketball style would you play?
“Uptempo style offense where there is structure but the players also have freedom within that structure to read the defense and play. Also, I would press and force the tempo on defense in a perfect world.”