Winning a national championship while going undefeated in NCAA Division I and being a gold medalist in the Olympics is a dream career path for any athlete. However, it was more than just a dream for WSU women’s basketball Head Coach Kamie Ethridge. She lived it.
Ethridge grew up in Texas as the youngest of four siblings with all of her family playing basketball.
“I loved basketball growing up, and I knew that I always wanted to play it,” Ethridge said.
This mindset carried her to a successful career as a basketball player. She had the honor of being a college basketball player at the University of Texas at Austin, where she had one of the most successful careers of any Longhorn.
In Austin, Ethridge led Texas to the 1986 NCAA National Championship where she was named MVP after being a team captain and leading her team to a record of 34-0 that season. This made them the first Division I women’s basketball team to go undefeated.
“I loved my time at Texas,” Ethridge said. “Going to Texas was a dream of mine. That’s where I learned how to compete, how to be a good leader, how to be a great teammate and how to compete and succeed at the highest level.”
A national championship would be the highlight of an athletic career for most. However, Ethridge’s career continued to soar. She was a member of the gold medal-winning USA Olympic women’s basketball team in 1988.
“I tell people all the time it was the greatest individual achievement you could ever have as a basketball player,” Ethridge said. “Just to be on that podium, to watch that flag be lowered and the national anthem played, it’s the highest of highs for an individual, and was the highlight of my basketball career.”
After the Olympics, Ethridge played basketball overseas because at the time the Women’s National Basketball Association had not been established yet. When her playing career finished, she turned to coaching.
She has over 30 years of collegiate coaching experience including stints at Northern Illinois University, Vanderbilt University and Kansas State University where she spent 18 years as an assistant. Ethridge spent the last four seasons at University of Northern Colorado as a head coach for the first time in her career.
“I loved my time at Northern [Colorado], and after four years I felt like I had a good thing going and our program was headed in the right direction,” Ethridge said.
Coming off a season where she was named Big Sky Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year and led the University of Northern Colorado to its first NCAA Tournament appearance, Ethridge has big plans for her new team.
“Wins and losses will take care of themselves if we build a great foundation for this program,” Ethridge said. “I want my players to be competitive and passionate, respecting the game and knowing what it takes to be great. That includes being a great student in the classroom and respecting professors.”
Ethridge looks to lead the Cougs back into Pac-12 competition when they start the regular season Nov. 6 at Beasley Coliseum, marking the beginning of a new era for the team.