Brooke Wilhoit made her mark as a point guard for the East Tennessee State women’s basketball team. Now she’s hoping to do the same as a coach.
The Sevierville native has come back to her alma mater to join head coach Karen Kemp’s staff and looks forward to some unfinished business after four years away.
“I was talking to my parents about it, and the only thing that could have made my college experience better was to win a championship — to have a ring when I left,” Wilhoit said Wednesday. “The next three years after I left, they won it. I know we were part of building that, but I’m hoping I can finally get that ring.”
Wilhoit coached at Kennesaw State last season, after three seasons at Wofford. She replaces Josh Wick on the ETSU staff; he was named an assistant to new Elon coach Charlotte Smith earlier this week.
“I was so lucky because I graduated here in 2007 and was literally working at Wofford as soon I was considered a graduate,” said Wilhoit. “I had a lot to learn and have been fortunate to coach the last four years. When coach Kemp called me and offered me this position, I knew this is where I needed to be. It’s so rewarding to be part of it again.”
Wilhoit was an outstanding playmaker for the Lady Bucs.
She ranks second in program history in assists, with 445, and fourth in steals (210). She was an All-Atlantic Sun Conference player as a senior after leading the league in assists and made the all-tournament team. She helped change the culture for the Lady Bucs.
“The hardest-working and most dedicated player you could ever ask for,” said Kemp. “I know she’s going to be the same way as a coach; she’s already proven that at her previous schools. She’s blue and gold through and through. Both her parents graduated from ETSU, so the family is just ingrained in the school.”
Kemp said Wilhoit’s primary responsibilities will be scouting and working with the guards. She also expects her to be a recruiting asset.
“I think she gained a lot of experience across the board at Wofford. She was asked to do a lot there,” said Kemp. “Her personality makes her a great recruiter. She’s still young and really relates to recruits.”
Always a quick study on and off the court, Wilhoit says she better sees the big picture of college basketball now.
“Since I’ve been coaching, I’ve gotten to see the other side of things,” she said. “My favorite part of the job is the relationships you develop with players, knowing you can make an impact in their lives. Seeing them come in as young girls and leave as young women … I want them to have the same great experience I had here.”
n It was another long, hot July on the basketball recruiting trail for ETSU coach Murry Bartow and his staff. He says you often wonder where you stand as you make your way from one steamy gym to another.
“When you’re at these events, you just sit and evaluate. You can’t talk to anybody and sometimes you don’t know what you’re getting done,” said Bartow. “The kids you’ve been on, you’re at their games and want to make sure they see you there. That’s number one.
“Number two, you’re finding new guys to get involved with as you go along. Now you can start calling them twice a week, so you can see where you’re at. The cloudiness goes away a little bit in August, and in September we can go in their homes. As far as July, you get asked a lot how things are going, and you just don’t really know.”
Bartow is still hopeful of having one more newcomer on his roster this fall. He says he won’t know for sure until classes start later this month.
“We’ve got 12 guys right this second, and one young man will walk on,” he said. “I’m very hopefully we’ll get one more. It’s still not a done deal; we’re waiting on some other things.”
n Women’s soccer is the first team on campus this fall. The Lady Bucs began with fitness testing on Wednesday and will take to the field today.
New coach Adam Sayers has nine newcomers and 16 returning players on his roster. He’s still trying to get a feel for what he has to work with.
“Being able to work with the returning players for a couple of months in the spring obviously helped,” said Sayers. “Some of the new players, I saw them at camps over the summer. Overall the picture is better for me than it was.”
Sayers, who was hired in January to replace Heather Henson, has his work cut out for him.
The Lady Bucs were picked eighth in the A-Sun preseason poll, ahead of only Lipscomb and Upstate. None of their players made the all-conference team.
For now, Sayers just wants to see how to best approach the game with this bunch.
“Initially we’ll just have a squad scrimmage, try different players in different positions and evaluate from there,” said Sayers. “We’ll probably spend the first few days on defensive roles and priorities within the system, and then a few days incorporating the attacking strategy.”
The Lady Bucs have an exhibition game with Campbell, the just-departed A-Sun school, on Aug. 9. They open the season Aug. 19 at Wofford.
n The men’s soccer and volleyball teams get started next week.
Men’s soccer has been picked second in the league in a virtual tossup with Florida Gulf Coast (one point separated them in the balloting), and ETSU sophomore Itode Fubara is the preseason player of the year.
Senior Aaron Schoenfeld was also named to the all-conference team.
Volleyball, meanwhile, was picked fifth in a tightly packed bunch led by Lipscomb. Sophomore Megan Devine was the team’s only all-conference pick.