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A Conversation With Carolynn DeHoff

Story By Steph Stanislao
Photos J. Alan Paul Photography

[box_light]Hometown: Cheyenne, Wy.
Age: 45
Years Coaching: 24[/box_light]


Spending time outside riding ATV’s doesn’t seem typical for a collegiate coach, but for Carolynn DeHoff that’s her home-away-from home. DeHoff has been with the NDSU Women’s Basketball Program for the past five years, and is continuing to bring greatness to the court. DeHoff sat down with Bison Illustrated and shared her experiences with hoops, her love of the outdoors and how she thinks she would do one-on-one against Men’s Basketball Coach Saul Phillips.

1.) Can you describe your background with basketball?
“I grew up basically playing out on our drive-way. In fifth grade I ended up having a pretty good coach that got me very interested in the game… I eventually ended up picking Arizona State, where I played collegiately and graduated from there. My fourth year girls basketball was in the spring, so there was a high school coach that sat at one of our practices and asked me if I would be interested in being an assistant coach with his program at Coronado High School, in Scottsdale, AZ. When that opportunity came across, I thought well, ‘Why not? I’ve been participating in the game of basketball my whole life. I really don’t know anything that I love more?’

So, I coached two years at the high school level, as an assistant coach at Coronado High School, and then when I was graduating I was debating whether or not to get my masters. So, then I started to apply for positions with coaches.. I ended up visiting with the coach from the University of Wyoming at the time, Chad Lavin, and it kind of went from there. I was 23-years of age and I got my first full-time assistant position, as a recruiting coordinator, at a Division I institution. That was obviously something unique and special because I was close to where I grew up. I had a great seven years at the University of Wyoming. I learned a lot from him (Lavin), and then we were let go as a staff. I was fortunate and a position opened up at Weber State in Ogden, Utah. I worked at Weber State for five years and had always wanted to be a head coach. Then the position at the University of Utah opened up, and it was a move up the ladder for me. So, I had the opportunity to be an assistant under a very successful coach, Elaine Elliot for five years. Again, I experienced another level of play, and ended up making it to the elite eight… And then, my last year there we made the tournament and played out in Purdue, where Coach Ruley is a graduate from. I believe Coach Ruley was at the game that we were playing. They were doing a national search at that time (for a new coach), because I believe Coach Ruley was finished in April, and so they had been doing a search for quite some time. When I got home from that game, which was a couple days later, there was an email from Lynn Dorn asking if I would have an interest in the position. And it just kind of went from there. I never saw myself at North Dakota State but it felt right for me, and here I am five years later.

2.) Having played college hoops for ASU, what did you take from your experience playing for the Sun Devils?
“That seems so long ago. I was a different player at Arizona State than I was in high school. I scored a lot in high school. When I went to Arizona State, I became more of an intangible player— a defensive stopper— I loved that side of things. I found another part of the game that I grew to really like.”

3.) Have any of your previous coaches, players or members of your coaching staff influenced the way you coach?
“Well I can say being a head coach, I have learned lessons through every player and assistant that has been under me. I think being an assistant coach is a completely different role. You experience things differently as an assistant. When you’re a head coach their are different dynamics, and as much as I am doing the mentoring and the leading of assistant coaches and players I think I’ve also learned a great deal from them. It has also effected my experience and my growth. I relate being a head coach to parenting. You have different personalities and situations—it never plays out the way you might want it to. So, you have to learn to adjust and deal with different challenges outside of winning and losing. So, I’ve learned as much from them, as I’ve hopefully been able to teach them.

4.) How do you spend your free time?
“I really love to camp in the outdoors. I really love to ride ATV or four-wheelers, being in God’s country and not having a lot going on around you. Where I can just kind of let myself be different from the professional that I am.”

5.) During your time as student athlete, did you acquire a nickname?
“Yes. I did. It started when I was in fifth grade, and it was given to me by, the coach who gave me my passion, and that was ‘PeeWee.’

6.) A lot of athletes and coaches have superstitions or pregame rituals, do you have any?
“I do have pregame rituals. I don’t eat the same thing. I obviously eat what the players do. I have to eat four hours prior to the game, and then I have to get in a power nap… And then it’s basically just getting ready for the game, and obviously for the road. As long as I’m there an hour and ten minutes before the game.

7.) If you matched up against Coach Phillips in a game of one-on-one, who would win and why?
“Oh! That’s a tough one. I don’t shoot it quite as well as I used to. I’ve seen Coach Phillips play, because he’s been out in the half court, and he’d probably want to use a guys ball. But, I would too. I grew up with a guys ball… I never really adjusted to the women’s ball. I’m going to say that’d be a pretty heated and competitive match. I think it would be something to see. I held on for eight seconds on the bull this fall when it was out there at football tailgating (laughs). I think I’ve got him beat on the mechanical bull, but I’m not sure I can top him on the basketball court.”

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