Following nine seasons as the Associate Head Coach at the University of Central Michigan, Heather Oesterle slid over one chair once Head Coach Sue Guevara announced her retirement in July of 2019. In her first season, the CMU program did not skip a beat, as she led the Chippewas to a 23-7 record and the MAC Regular Season Championship. This success resulted in Oesterle being named the MAC Coach of the Year.
Three things I learned in year one as the Head Coach at Central Michigan are:
- Hiring your assistant coaches is the most important thing you do. I was lucky to keep the two that were on staff before (Murriel Page and Courtney Shelton). Then hiring Mark (Simons), we didn’t skip a beat. The chemistry on our staff was why we had a great year.
- One of the biggest things I learned this year is just to be myself. I didn’t have to change into someone I’m not to be a successful Head Coach. My personality is a lot different than Coach G and our players had to get used to it but I didn’t ever try to be her. I think the team really took on my personality as the season went on. I try always to be calm and relaxed so they play that way and I thought for the most part we did that.
- It’s really important to share your vision with the team the first opportunity you get. The first practice after I was named Head Coach, I told them we were going to win another championship, and that the expectations don’t change even with what we lost to graduation and with Coach G. But I also told them, “this is how we do it.” Our staff had buy in from day one. Even when we lost a couple games early our team knew we were learning for a bigger purpose.
Something I’ve also thought a lot about post season is I would like to do a better job giving my assistant coaches more responsibility during games. I also want to help prepare my assistant coaches to be head coaches, the same way Coach G prepared me. I know that giving them more experience in different areas will only help them grow.