Michigan State golf coaching tree is far reaching

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Michigan State golf coaching tree is far reaching

Women

Michigan State golf coaching tree is far reaching

SUGAR GROVE, Ill. – There was a moment at the Briar’s Creek Invitational in March when Michigan State junior Katie Sharp turned to Caroline Powers and declared that knock-down shots were her new favorite thing.

Powers, Michigan State’s fresh-faced assistant coach, wanted to throw up her hands and scream “Hallelujah!” It had finally sunk in.

“I think I was pretty naive to think those light-bulb moments would happen all the time,” said Powers, the most decorated player in Michigan State history.

But boy did it feel good.

For head coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll, it was a double-dose of pride for the student had become the teacher.

Such light-bulb moments are happening for Spartan players-turned-coaches at programs across the country. In all, there are a dozen coaches in men’s and women’s Division I golf who are part of the Michigan State coaching tree.

At this week’s NCAA Division I Women’s Championship at Rich Harvest Farms, there are five Spartan players coaching –  Emily Glaser (Florida head coach), Stacy Snider (Ohio State assistant), John Koskinen (Miami assistant), Slobodnik-Stoll and Powers.

Both Slobodnik-Stoll and MSU men’s head coach Casey Lubahn are former Spartan players. Four of the women Slobodnik-Stoll coached in East Lansing are now Division I coaches: Powers, Glaser, Snider, and Amy Neff (Vanderbilt assistant).

“The biggest compliment I guess you can give someone is mimicking them,” said Snider. “I want to give back the way she gave back.”

Slobodnik-Stoll was 22 years old and had recently turned pro when Mary Fossum called her in January 1995 about becoming her assistant coach. The two-time team captain was living in Florida and had a sponsor secured for the next two years. She had the same initial reaction as Powers: No! The LPGA was calling.

But then her dad weighed in, and well, 22 years later, she’s coaching in her 11th NCAA Championship.

Ohio State assistant coach Stacy Snider (Ohio State Athletics)

How often does Slobodnik-Stoll hear from former players who are now her coaching peers?

“I always tell Caroline that I should maybe think about charging a consulting fee,” she joked.

It’s flattering to get the calls, expected too. From the moment Slobodnik-Stoll recruits a player to MSU, she tells them they’re a Spartan for life. Whether it’s a question about qualifying rounds or being a mom.

“I called her a lot in the beginning,” said Glaser. “Definitely find myself in situations that are like a deja vu of something (Slobodnik-Stoll) has said or some moment that reminds me of playing there, being on the team. She’s incredibly level-headed and smart. And trustworthy.”

John Koskinen was a frustrated playing professional in 2009 when a former MSU teammate informed him that Barry University was looking to hire an assistant coach. Within three weeks Koskinen’s unexpected coaching career had begun. Eight months later he was offered the assistant job at Miami.

Koskinen, Glaser and Snider were in the same class at Michigan State (2003) and keep in touch. He’s also great friends with Tulane coach Lorne Don, who graduated from Michigan State in 2004 and was an assistant to Slobodnik-Stoll for 10 years. Don, Koskinen, Lubahn and Miami (Ohio) men’s head coach Zac Zedrick all played under former Michigan State head coach Mark Hankins.

Koskinen has tried to figure out why so many Michigan State players wind up as coaches, and offers this potential explanation: Players see how much their coaches enjoy the job.

Miami assistant coach John Koskinen (Miami Athletics)

It also doesn’t hurt that two of the most respected coaches in all of college sports – MSU’s Tom Izzo (men’s basketball) and Mark Dantonio (football), take an interest in what goes on in the golf programs. Each time the Michigan State women collect a Big Ten title (11 in all, six under Slobodnik-Stoll), Izzo and Dantonio are among the first to call.

Early on in Slobodnik-Stoll’s coaching career, she heard Izzo talk about the desire to have sustained success. Slobodnik-Stoll took that philosophy to heart – the Spartans won their fourth Big Ten title in the past seven years last April.

Slobodnik-Stoll is known as a tough coach, but also an encouraging one. When Michigan State endured a particularly rough fall semester, Powers took note of the way in which Slobodnik-Stoll kept the fire lit.

One of the biggest lessons Slobodnik-Stoll believes she can pass on, is to never give up on people.

“There’s always hope,” she said. “It’s our job to continue to give that hope.”

• • •

The Spartan Coaching Tree

  • Casey Lubahn – Michigan State men’s head coach
  • Dan Ellis – Michigan State men’s assistant coach
  • *John Koskinen – Miami women’s assistant coach
  • Lorne Don – Tulane women’s head coach
  • Zac Zedrick – Miami (Ohio) men’s head coach
  • Mark Gaynor – Francis Merion men’s head coach
  • *Stacy Snider – Ohio State women’s assistant coach
  • *Caroline Powers – Michigan State women’s assistant coach
  • *Emily Glaser – Florida women’s head coach
  • *Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll – Michigan State women’s head coach
  • Kelly Ovington – Ohio University women’s head coach
  • Aimee Neff – Vanderbilt women’s assistant coach

*at the NCAA finals this week

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