WAYNE – The Wayne State College women’s basketball coaching staff made some additions recently to the program by hiring a new assistant and grad assistant coach.
According to a release from the Wayne State Athletics Department, new staff members are Kacie O’Connor as an assistant coach and Dalton Smith as the graduate assistant coach.
Head coach Brent Pollari will be entering his third season with the program and is excited about the two hirees.
“One of them is rejoining the Wildcat family here, Kacie O’Connor,” said Pollari “She’s a former two-sport athlete here at Wayne State; very successful. Then Dalton Smith is our graduate assistant. He came off high recommendation from our rival here, Kearney, where he was a student coach for the last three years and just wrapped up his student teaching.”
O’Connor returns to Wayne State after spending last season (2019-20) as a graduate assistant coach at Northwestern College in Iowa, helping the Red Raiders women’s basketball team to a 17-11 overall record, while coaching four players to All-GPAC honors.
O’Connor played four seasons (2014-18) of basketball and track and field at Wayne State College. During her time as a Wildcat, O’Connor scored 754 points leading the Wildcats in three-point shooting as a junior and senior. O’Connor was also a two-time NSIC All-Academic honoree, while serving as team captain for two-years.
“Like I said I’ve talked to so many people in the community and people that got to know Kacie,” Pollari added. “Just had a lot of really good things to say about her. So really excited about her to come.”
O’Connor also excelled in the ring on the Wildcat track and field team. She claimed the 2016 NSIC Outdoor Discus Championship with a throw of 158’ 7” earning All-NSIC honors. Her efforts resulted in becoming a 2016 National Qualifier in the discus, where O’Connor finished 18th with a throw of 141’ 11”. Her success in the ring earned herself USTFCCCA All-Region and All-Academic honors as a senior.
A native of Sundance, Wyoming, O’Connor also spent a season as an assistant girls’ basketball coach at Sundance High School. O’Connor earned her bachelor’s degree in physical education from Wayne State College in 2018.
Smith joins the Wildcat coaching staff as a graduate assistant coach after serving the last three seasons as a student assistant at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. While with the Lopers, Smith assisted the UNK coaching staff with skill development during practice, reviewed game film to assess opponents’ strengths and weaknesses and handled team equipment on the road among other duties.
A native of Plattsmouth, Smith also served as an assistant coach for the Western Iowa Express summer basketball team and spent two seasons as an assistant boys’ basketball coach at Kearney Catholic High School.
Smith earned his bachelor degree from UNK in Health & Physical Education K-12 and minored in coaching.
Coach Pollari mentioned the team hosted their Elite Camp Sunday which showcased a good mix of fundamentals.
“We had 30 players show up,” Pollari mentioned. “Very high-talent players. We had actually six committed kids that are in the ‘21 class along with some youngsters 22’s and 23’s. So, yeah it was a really good camp.”
Wayne State College finished the 2019-20 season with a record of 16-13 overall, placing seventh in the NSIC South Division at 11-11 in league play.
Coach Pollari said the women’s basketball program is following the theme of ‘get to’.
“There’s a lot of questions that we don’t have answers to,” said Pollari. “We didn’t know if we were going to be able to workouts today (Monday) a week ago. I said ‘if we do, we get to do them’. We don’t know if we’re going to have games, if we do we get to have them.”
Earlier this week the women’s basketball program began their first individual workouts with the 4-5 positions.
The 2020-21 Wayne State College women’s basketball team had an exhibition scheduled for Wednesday, November 4 at Creighton University to open their season. Following the mid-August NSIC announcement that all fall season sports have been canceled, all athletic competition has also been suspended through December 31, 2020.