By Leah Jones, Features Editor
As the University of Missouri-St. Louis Men’s Basketball team lost assistant coach Rob Holloway, the women’s team gained Emily Geary as the new assistant coach at the beginning of this year. Though she has only been at UMSL for two months, Geary said that she was happy in her new position and holds high hopes for the rest of the semester.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity that I’ve been given by Coach Vaughn and our athletic director, Lori Flanagan. They’re really such great people to work for and such a great department to work with,” she said.
Head Coach Katie Vaughn expressed a similar enthusiasm for working with Geary and said “I am elated to welcome Emily to the UMSL women’s basketball program and look forward to working with her…She brings in a strong basketball background that will make an immediate impact on the program. Her knowledge of the game and desire to help young women achieve their goals both on and off the court is another attribute that makes her valuable, along with her drive and passion for this profession.”
Geary hopes that their mutual enthusiasm and compatible goals will carry over to the team’s performance on the court. “I think when your values align on the court, it really helps kind of keep that team. The team feels that. Everybody feels that. That’s important when you’re working with somebody so closely,” she said.
Geary began her coaching career at Franklin College, a Division II school just south of Indianapolis, in 2006. In 2008, she began coaching at the University of Detroit Mercy, a Division I school, where she remained for five seasons. “We turned that program around,” Geary said. “They had only won, I think six games, the year before I had gotten there and they we went on in those five years to have two post season tournament bids and we won a WBI (Women’s Basketball Invitational) championship.”
Geary coached with her husband, Mike Geary, for four out of the five years that she was at the University of Detroit Mercy. When he got a job working as an associate head coach for the Saint Louis University’s Women’s Basketball team, Geary said that they initially planned to live apart. The distance proved to be a challenge though, and Geary took a position as the director of basketball operations/video operations for the Women’s Basketball team at SLU.
While working at SLU, Geary, who graduated with her bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Northern Michigan in 2004, completed her master’s degree in leadership and organizational development from SLU in 2016. She also had her first child, Cruz. “So everything happened [at once] in those last three years when I was at SLU… I wanted to have a child. I wanted to get my master’s. So I am really happy about that,” Geary said.
Since her position at SLU did not include recruiting, she said that she was able to balance having a small child and completing her degree program. The Women’s Basketball team at SLU finished with a 26-8 overall record and reached the third round of the Women’s National Invitation tournament while Geary was there.
Geary got her start in basketball at six years old when her parents moved into a new house that had a basketball court. By 11, Geary said that she was playing pick-up games with grown men on another nearby court. “So that really helped me really become a good basketball player because I played with boys my whole life,” Geary said. “My mom would drive by with her little minivan to make sure I was okay, and I would be at the courts all the time.”
She continued to play basketball through college and played professionally in Germany’s top division until two injuries brought her into the coaching world at Franklin College. As a coach, Geary said that she is demanding, but that she also thinks that it is important for players to have fun. “I’m really intense… I’m very detailed with what I want done, but at the same time, I’m not going to be somebody that’s going to be take myself too seriously and take the fun out of the game,” Geary said. “The main thing…with any coach is to bring out the players’ strengths, and make sure they’re playing to their highest ability and to really do that you have to coach really every player in a different way.”
Geary holds high hopes for her time at UMSL. “Coach Vaughn and I, we want to raise the standards this year. We want to have a championship team,” Geary said. Though Geary acknowledged the importance of championships, Geary also said, “I think that the biggest thing for me is making sure that the players that we bring in have a really good and positive experience and they walk away, one becoming better basketball players but also better people and they continue their love for the game, even after their time at UMSL.”
To read more about Coach Geary, visit; http://www.umsltritons.com/news/2016/7/12/geary-joins-womens-basketball-program-as-assistant-coach.aspx