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A new era for women’s basketball

What’s in store for the women’s basketball program with Kelly Cole at the helm? Northeastern’s new head coach offered a glimpse into her coaching style, high expectations, and passion for the game during a press conference at the Cabot Center on Wednesday.

“We look forward to putting together a very exciting and dynamic style of basketball this season,” Cole said. “By combining the tremendous core of returning talent, a few fresh ideas, enthusiasm, and a lot of hard work, the goals of the program and the university are well within our reach.”

Athletic director Peter Roby noted that Cole brings an impressive record of experience and leadership to Northeastern that has led to student-athletes’ success on the court and in the classroom.

“I’m thrilled about the future of women’s basketball at Northeastern,” Roby said.

Cole’s 20 years of coaching—13 at the Division 1 level—includes nine seasons as an assistant at Boston College, two seasons at Northwestern University, her alma mater, and two seasons at Harvard University, her most recent position. During her tenure, those teams have recorded 20-win seasons 10 times and made 11 postseason appearances, eight NCAA tournament berths, and three trips to the Sweet 16.

Just as impressive, Roby said, is Cole’s decision to coach and teach at the high school level in Oregon after graduating college in 1991. “One of the things that I admire about Kelly is that she is an educator,” Roby said. “That speaks volumes to me about what Kelly values … It’s important that we have dedicated and gifted people who are willing to go back and impact young people.”

From left, Kelly Cole, the new Northeastern women's basketball head coach, and athletic director Peter Roby, at Wednesday's press conference. Photo by Mariah Tauger.

From left, Kelly Cole, the new Northeastern women’s basketball head coach, and athletic director Peter Roby, at Wednesday’s press conference. Photo by Mariah Tauger.

At Northeastern, Cole is eager to get the ball rolling with a group she described as “loaded with potential.” The Huskies lost this past season’s leading scorer and rebounder Jewel Tunstull to graduation, but the rest of the team’s core will return next season. Cole looks forward to featuring a team-first approach, a tight-knit group, and an up-tempo brand of Huskies basketball when the season kicks off this fall.

In addition to the head coaching opportunity, Cole said Northeastern’s academic profile, particularly the university’s focus on experiential education and global learning, was a huge draw for her—one that she also plans to emphasize to prospective student-athletes on the recruiting trail. “Northeastern provides a perfect combination of academic excellence and competitive athletics, all in the heart of one of the finest college and sports towns in the nation,” she said.

Cole underscored that intangibles, such as work ethic, integrity, and a strong understanding of the game, are among the traits she looks for in recruits. “Resiliency is incredibly important, for student-athletes to face challenges, bounce back, and look for the next level [of success] rather than be content,” she added.

The Huskies lost 10 games by less than 10 points in the 2013-14 season, which Cole said is an opportunity in the short term to make some minor adjustments and turn L’s into W’s. When asked about her long-term goals for the program, Cole responded, “Nothing short of conference championships and postseason play.”