Court to coach: Former USI player joins staff full time

Basketball became the main sport in Stephanie Carpenter’s life during second grade.

Carpenter graduated  in 2014 with a criminal justice major and accounting minor, the USI alumna is now back on the court as an assistant coach for the women’s basketball team.

“Being able to continue basketball was a dream come true,” she said.

Carpenter finished her career ranked first all-time at USI in made three-pointers and ranked 14th all-time at USI with 1,003 points.

“I didn’t think about life after basketball,” she said. “ When it ended I knew that’s what made me happy and I knew right then and there that coaching was something I wanted to get into.”

Last season Carpenter was a part-time coach, which she said helped to give her some experience.

“I’m excited about being able to go full time and having a bigger role to play,” she said. “It is exciting.”

Carpenter said she will be coaching two girls on the team who she was teammates with.

“They respected me as a teammate and now as a coach,” she said. “It’s interesting and I think it’s a benefit…they know how I was as a player and they know I care about the game and the program.”

Carpenter said she gets more nervous coaching as opposed to when she was playing, due to not having as much control over the game.

However, she plans on doing whatever she needs to do for the team and provide everything she can.

“I have a special place in my heart for USI so being able to coach here is really exciting,” she said.

Kendyl Dearing, a senior exercise science and strength and conditioning double major, was one of Carpenter’s former teammates.

“It’s going to be really cool having her as a coach,” Dearing said. “She was so recent and she knows what we are going through and can get on a personable level and connect with us personally because she is more our age.”

Dearing said she has always seen Carpenter as a coach, even when she was her captain when she started playing for the university.

“She is taking a step forward so we have to treat her more as a coach instead of a teammate…she is a great coach and role model,” Dearing said.

When Dearing was a freshman she said she always viewed Carpenter as a hard worker and someone who always put the team before herself.

“I think her mental attitude toward their game and how she approaches every situation with charisma and class will carry over,” she said. “That’s a great role model for teammates and captains this year.”

Tanner Marcum, a senior sports management major, said Carpenter wasn’t just her teammate but her best friend.

“She is always really positive with me and challenges me,” Marcum said. “That’s what I really like about her.”

Marcum said she thinks Carpenter’s transition to a coach will be smooth due to her understanding of a player’s perspective and said she is excited Carpenter is on the coaching staff.

“I thought she was the greatest,” Marcum said. “She broke the three point record and always works so hard and she encourages me to be a good leader.”