Ever since she played basketball for her father at Parkersburg South High School, Kim Stephens dreamed of the day she would coach at the Division I level.
When her plane touched down in Sacramento, Calif., on Tuesday, the process began as Stephens officially became an assistant coach at Sacramento State under former Glenville State College head coach Bunky Harkleroad.
"This is so exciting - it's like a dream come true," said Stephens, who graduated from Parkersburg South in 2007 then played two seasons for Harkleroad at GSC prior to becoming his assistant with the Pioneers for one year.
"As soon as I started playing for my dad (Scott Stephens), I watched him and saw how hard he worked," she continued. "That was something I definitely wanted to do."
Kim Stephens left a few tears back in the Mid-Ohio Valley thinking about the players she left behind. At the same time, she is anxious to hit the ground running and help implement the ins and outs of Harkleroad's system - which is to overwhelm an opponent both physically and mentally.
Last season, GSC led all of Division II in scoring for the fourth straight year at 95.3 points per game. As Stephens learned during her time in a GSC uniform, players are encouraged to shoot the 3-pointer at a brisk pace.
"I believe in his system," Stephens said. "Sacramento State has played fast in the past and that's why they contacted Bunky. After I was hired, our conversation was very quick but he loves their energy. They press real well and are not real tall. There is not a lot of height, but he praised their quickness."
Sacramento State is a member of the Big Sky Conference. Last season, the Hornets averaged 72.4 points per game while finishing 19-12 and 13-7 in the league. They lost to Montana in the semifinals of the Big Sky Conference Tournament.
"When I was a player, I fell in love with Bunky's system and all the girls who played for him say this is the best way to go," Stephens said. "You play your hardest every second, get a sub, then do it again. It's very chaotic, but we are the team that sets the tempo."
Stephens' mother accompanied her on the trip to Sacramento this week. Her father will join the two women next week. An adjustment period will exist since she coached at a school with an enrollment of 2,000 compared to 25,000 where her current position takes her.
"Everything is on a bigger scale at the Division I level, and there will be a lot more people around," Stephens said. "At Glenville, you had to do the strength and conditioning, academics and travel. Now I get to focus more on basketball, which makes it more fun.
"Bunky raises the bar for me as a coach. I'm sure he will push me and not let me get too comfortable. His system is one I believe in."
Contact Kerry Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org