As Marshall’s Associate Head Coach from 2012 to 2017, Tony Kemper was instrumental in assisting the program to two of only three post-season berths in the program’s history, but on March 17, 2017 he began the road of forging his own legacy as the new Head Coach of the Thundering Herd.
Kemper’s path to Division I Head Coach started as a love for teaching. “I have many interests outside of basketball and began after college pursuing a career in business, but it just never felt right, said Kemper. “I got into teaching and felt at home in a teaching and leading role.”
After a season as the Head Coach at Quivira High School in Kansas, Kemper, a Kansas native, moved on to Hutchinson Community College for two seasons before transitioning to the University of Central Arkansas as an assistant men’s basketball coach.
This is where he met then-Central Arkansas Head Women’s Basketball Coach Matt Daniel, and after two years with the men’s basketball team, he became Daniel’s Associate Head Coach. Two more years at Central Arkansas led Kemper to following Daniel to Marshall where it’s now his program.
“I was fortunate to move up through the ranks from High School to Junior College and finally to Division I. To get the opportunity to do this at the highest level of NCAA basketball is a dream come true. To get the chance to be an influential part of these young ladies’ lives is right where I want to be,” said Kemper.
There are some advantages and challenges with transitioning from Associate Head Coach to Head Coach at the same University, but Kemper embraces the opportunity.
“The biggest benefit was taking over a situation where I had so much intimate knowledge of the inner workings of our players, program and athletics department,” said Kemper. “There wasn’t much of a learning curve for how things operated, this freed me up to pursue working on my new relationship with our student-athletes.”
In discussing one of the biggest challenges of being a first-time head coach, Kemper is facing the same obstacle as many first-time head coaches, delegating. Kemper said, “As a head coach there is a learning curve to deciding what you should handle and what can be delegated. Learning this skill and ability to balance everything coming at me in my new role has been the most challenging early in my tenure.”
Kemper is excited about the talent within his program and has been hard at work at establishing a strong culture within the program. “If our group puts in the work required and has good chemistry, I think we can have an exciting group to watch,” said Kemper.
Kemper’s goal for his program is to build a team that consistently competes with Conference USA’s best. “I am process driven, we don’t spend much time talking about where we want to finish,” Kemper said. “We want to try to get as good as we can be, but we don’t want to set limitations on what that looks like.”
Kemper is leading by example, as he has always worked hard to be as good a coach and leader as he could be, which led to his current role that so many coaches dream of, Division I head coach.
Originally written for CollegeInsider.com.