From time to time I will highlight women with careers in sports to give readers a perspective on the vast influence that woman can and do have on the lives of athletes. Today’s interview is with GladiatHer turned coach, Katie Glusko. Coach Glusko, a former NCAA Division-I basketball player for the West Virginia University Mountaineers, is the Head Coach of Francis Marion University’s women’s basketball team in Florence, SC (a program once headed by famed coach Sylvia Rhyne Hatchell). Like other coaches, Glusko is in the position to have a tremendous affect on the lives of the young ladies that she coaches, and she takes her position very seriously. Read more about Coach Glusko here and check out the interview below:
Question: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me about your career. Coaching seems to be a popular career choice for former athletes, but not everyone is blessed with the opportunity to get a head coaching position. How did you get your start in coaching?
Answer: You’re very welcome and I am very excited to do the interview with GladiatHers today. After graduating from West Virginia, I was presented with the opportunity to be a Graduate Assistant at Concord University, in Athens, West Virginia. It was there, while furthering my education, I fell in love with empowering young women, teaching and growing the game of basketball.
Question: How did you end up at Francis Marion?
Answer: Upon completion of my Master of Education at Concord, I was approached about an assistant coaching position at Gannon University, in Erie, Pennsylvania. I recognized this as a wonderful opportunity and happily accepted the chance to further my coaching endeavors. After spending two very successful years at Gannon, the coaching job at Francis Marion became vacant, and I applied.
Question: And we obviously know the outcome of that application process. In the short time that you have been head coach at FMU you have turned the program around in a substantial way. What do you attribute your success to and where would you like to see the program go in the next few years?
Answer: Thank you very much. Our success can be solely attributed to culture. In the three years I’ve been at Francis Marion, we have strived to build a positive, uplifting, and productive culture for our players. We have been developing our young women as much off court (to graduate and be productive citizens in their communities) as we are on court (in attempting to take the team back to the NCAA Division-II National Tournament).
In the next few years I would like to see the program rank in the top 25 in the nation, as well as have a 100% graduation rate.
Question: Wow, what a difference a cultural shift can make! I imagine that assistant coaches are an integral part of your success. What do you look for in potential applicants when hiring an assistant coach?
Answer: Yes, assistant coaches play a vital role in the success of the program. Loyalty, leadership, dedication, enthusiasm, and of course a vast understanding of basketball are all extremely important qualities that our assistant coaches must exude.
Question: What’s your philosophy on coaching and getting the most out of your players?
Answer: My coaching philosophy is based on the concepts of tough love and accountability. I can be very hard on my players, but they understand that I want to see them fulfill their potential and achieve all of our goals. When our players take responsibility for the team, we are successful.
Question: Well I’d definitely say that your philosophy is working. What do you like most about your job and what do you find the most rewarding?
Answer: I absolutely love that basketball allows me to provide young women with opportunities that will affect their lives as players and outside of basketball. It gives me great pleasure to see them develop into great individuals and players. What I find most rewarding is the trust and relationships that I have built with the team. Knowing that they play very hard for me and that we are in it together, through thick and thin, is the most rewarding aspect of my job.
Question: Sounds so rewarding. What do you like the least about your job and what do you find the most difficult?
Answer: What I believe is the most difficult aspect of coaching in general, in any sport, is the performance-based continuum. The coaching profession is very tough, especially because there is constant pressure to win, but schools/management frequently do not give much time for development. The Francis Marion Athletic Department has a great understanding of this, and it truly is a wonderful place to be employed.
Question: Why do you think that it is important for females to be involved in sports and have sports-related careers?
Answer: I believe that sports are a way for females to stay focused, inspired, and goal-oriented for a lifetime. Sports provide positive environments, enrich lives, promote healthy lifestyles, and teach valuable life lessons.
Question: If a young girl were interested in following your career path, what education and certifications would she need to focus on getting and what would be your advice to her?
Answer: Obviously she would need to have a Bachelor’s Degree, to accompany her playing resume. She will be much more marketable for job opportunities if she has a Master’s Degree. Many opportunities for young women to attain Master’s Degrees are provided through graduate assistant programs, such as the one I did with Concord.
Question: I know you have taken a look at our definition of a GladiatHer, but tell us what you think of when you think of a GladiatHer?
Answer: When I think of a GladiatHer, the first person that comes to mind is former University of Tennessee Head Coach and Hall of Famer, Pat Summitt. In the words of Stanford Coach Tara VanDerveer, “Pat Summitt is a metaphor for excellence and hope.” Besides the amazing job she did for Tennessee, Coach Summitt redefined the women’s game. She has been and always will be who I inspire to be like. Pat Summitt is my role model and the true definition of a GladiatHer.
Thank you so much for your time! Best of luck with recruiting for the upcoming season.
To keep up with Coach Glusko and the Francis Marion Patriots, follow Coach Glusko on Twitter @FMUCoachGlusko