In July of 2019, Kristen Dowling returned to Malibu for her third stint with the Pepperdine University program, this time as the Head Women’s Basketball Coach. The former Waves’ Graduate Assistant and Assistant Coach had spent the previous seven seasons as the Head Women’s Basketball Coach at Claremont-Mudd-Scripts, where she led the program to a 147-46 (.762) overall record, six SCIAC Regular Season Championships, four SCIAC Tournament Championships, and four NCAA Tournament berths. 

Can you take us through the interview process and your emotion once you received the call that you would be new Head Coach at Pepperdine?

It happened very quick and was unexpected for sure. I believe in making the big time where you are, so I was focused on my program at CMS. Being the HC at Pepperdine was always my dream job though. When I got the call, I was excited and actually cried. Sometimes I still have to pinch myself. 

Having previously spent six years as a Division I Assistant Coach, how did your seven years of successful experience as Head Coach at Claremont-Mudd-Scripts best prepare you to return to the DI level and lead your own program?

My experience at CMS was crucial in preparing me to lead the Pepperdine program. It allowed me to develop my own philosophy and learn how to build and sustain a national caliber program. There are many coaches who have successfully made the move from DIII to DI. The basketball is the same, it’s just a higher level, with better athletes, and more resources. 

How did you go about putting together (important qualities or skills you were looking for) your first coaching staff at Pepperdine?

I love my staff. I looked for people who know the game really well, are tireless workers, are relationship based communicators, and would be great role models for our young women. 

After your first few months as a first-time DI Head Coach, what advice do you have for non-Division I head coaches who desire to become a DI Head Coach?

Make the big time where you are. Honestly, I wasn’t focused on being a DI Head Coach. Build the best program you can, find great role models, do things the right way, treat people well, and things will work out how they are supposed to.