Joe Steinkamp named Head Women’s Basketball Coach at Central College

Bringing a lengthy track record of success and a passion for Central College, Joe Steinkamp is the new Dutch women’s basketball coach.

Steinkamp, a 2003 Central graduate, severed for 11 years as assistant men’s basketball coach, helping lead the Dutch to two Iowa Conference titles and three NCAA Division III tournament berths. In his nine years as the program’s top varsity assistant, Central compiled a 132-80 mark.

He replaces Chelsea Petersen, who resigned after four years as head coach. The Dutch were 9-16 this past season.

“Joe is a proven and respected coach who will bring high energy and stability to our women’s program,” said athletics director Eric Van Kley. “He’s a tremendous relationship-builder, not only with his student-athletes but with all areas of campus. We couldn’t be more excited to have him lead this team.”

Van Kley said that respect level was evident when the players applauded as Steinkamp was presented to them as their new coach.
“He has high credibility with the players,” he said.

A two-time letterwinner as a Dutch player, Steinkamp served as team co-captain in 2002-03. He spent the following year as a graduate assistant at Loras College while pursuing a master’s degree, then coached Central’s junior varsity team for a season before serving as a volunteer assistant at Lewis University (Ill.). He returned to Central as JV coach in 2006 and was named top varsity assistant the following year.

Following the 2011-12 campaign, Steinkamp entered private business in Sioux Falls, S.D. but returned to assist current Dutch coach Craig Douma in 2013. Central was 10-14 in Steinkamp’s year away, but he helped Douma and the Dutch soar to a surprising 21-8 mark and a league crown in 2013-14 after being picked to finish last in a preseason poll.

“Central College is home for me,” Steinkamp said. “I’m really excited about the opportunity to be a head coach here. It’s something I’ve dreamt about for a long time. The opportunity to help our women’s program really build something special is exciting.”

Steinkamp played a major role in rebuilding Central’s men’s program, which struggled during his playing career, posting back-to-back 5-21 campaigns in his junior and senior seasons.

“Being a part of rebuilding the men’s program was extremely rewarding,” he said. “The chance to do that on the women’s side is exciting for me.”

Douma is quick to credit Steinkamp for the impact he made on the men’s program and confident he’ll be a successful head coach.

“I’m really happy for Coach Steinkamp,” he said. “This is something he really wanted. He will do an outstanding job. He loves Central College and he wants to see the women’s program be successful. He’s got such great passion for the game and so much knowledge that he will bring to the team. He will put his players in position to be successful.”

Douma said Steinkamp excels as a teacher and in game preparation. He also praised his work ethic and relentless recruiting efforts.

“I learned a lot from Coach Steinkamp,” he said.

Finding a new assistant isn’t simple.

“We won’t replace Coach Steinkamp but we just want to get somebody here who wants to do a great job,” Douma said. “He’s set the bar really high four that position but it’s nice to know that we’ll still have him around. We’re excited to see what candidates we find.”

Central women’s basketball has a proud tradition, capturing the 1993 NCAA Division III championship, winning six conference titles and earning five NCAA tourney berths. But the Dutch haven’t had a winning campaign since 2001-02. Steinkamp has empathized with the players as he’s watched the team compete.

“Having been a player on teams that didn’t have great success, I knew what they were going through,” he said.
His goal for the program is simple but far-reaching.

“Just get better every day,” he said. “I don’t want to put any limits on what that means. And as they improve, I want them to enjoy the process. I really feel like that’s what they’ll remember.”

When success comes—and Steinkamp is confident it will—the paybacks are rich.

“I’ve seen that with the men’s program,” Steinkamp said. “It brings so much joy, not only for the current players but for the alumni. And the memories they’ll carry with them years afterwards are really special.”

Steinkamp said he’s prepared to make the transition to coaching a women’s squad.

“There are definitely differences,” he said. “I’m sure there are some subtle differences in the game that I’ll have to pick up on. But more than anything, I’m confident in my ability to teach the game and build relationships. The things that really matter are creating the culture and doing the things you need to do in developing a program.

“The game is won with fundamentals, treating people the right way and having good communication skills.”

Already at work in his new role, Steinkamp is embracing the opportunity he’s long waited for.

“I’m extremely thankful for how much Eric Van Kley and (associate athletics director) Alicia O’Brien believed in me,” he said. “They’ve been so supportive of my career and I’m extremely grateful. And I want to thank all the coaches I’ve worked for over the years. I’m the coach I am today because of the coaches I’ve had. I’m extremely fortunate.”

Steinkamp wants his current and future players to know how committed he is to them and to their success.

“I want to help them both on and off the floor and am someone who will care for them as a basketball player and as a person.

“I’m a Central College alum and my experience here was so special that I want them to have that kind of experience as well.”

Photo Courtesy Central Athletics

Tagged with: