For a new coach, first impressions are important when it comes to showing their commitments to the program. Getting a Division I athlete to come to a Division II school is not a bad start.
Heather Howard, former Oklahoma State University player, has one last year of eligibility left. Rob Edmisson, the new women’s basketball coach, has convinced her to play out that year as a Griffon instead of a Cowgirl.
“I came up here and I loved it,” Howard said. “I loved coach Edmisson’s attitude about coaching and life and everything in general. I loved the girls I met here and the girls that were on a visit at the same time I was. It was just the right fit.”
Edmisson saw Howard as a perfect fit for the style of play he wants to bring to Western and believes her abilities are hard to come by at this level.
“She’s 6-3 and runs as well as most guards in this conference,” Edmisson said. “She can step out and shoot, she’s really agile and really athletic. She’s going to be a hard matchup in this conference because of her mobility. She fits into our style of play and we like to be fast and really get up and down the floor.”
Howard was an outstanding student at Oklahoma State. She loaded herself up with enough credits to graduate a year early. Aware of her academics being ahead of schedule, she was ready to be done as an athlete as well. That was until Edmisson contacted her through her coach and convinced her to go on a visit.
“At first I had no interest because I thought I was burned out on basketball and kind of ready to be done,” Howard said. “The more I talked to him, the more I thought about it and prayed about it and I said to myself, ‘I have one year left; if I don’t take this opportunity now, I’ll regret it the rest of my life.’”
Teammate KC Clouser is excited for what Howard brings to the team.
“She creates tons of mismatches on the court due to her height and abilities beyond the arch,” Clouser said, “and putting the ball on the floor and running the floor as a big girl.”
Although there are a lot of changes going on in the women’s basketball program, there is no room for excuses when it comes to a team this competitive.
“We sat down at the beginning of the season and said one of our main goals was to be in the top three teams of the conference,” Howard said.
Howard not only has team goals to seek and accomplish, she also has personal goals as well.
“In the past I’ve always put a lot of pressure on myself,” Howard said, “and when I haven’t met my expectations, I’m really hard on myself and that drags me down even more. I’ll still put pressure on myself, but in a way I can let loose and have fun and love the game that I play.”
There will definitely be less pressure on her as a Griffon than there was as a Cowgirl from the crowds’ perspective. Just last season, Howard had played in games that equal the average attendance of Western’s football games. In one game in particular against Iowa State, she played in front of a crowd of over 10,000. Last season the OSU team played in front of crowds that totaled up to be over 116,000 fans.
It’s probably safe to say that she will be fine under pressured situations in front of MIAA crowds.
She definitely will bring much needed experience to a very fresh team. She has done things that not a lot of Division II athletes ever get to experience, such as play in the Big 12 Championship and find playing time during March Madness in the NCAA tournament.