By Michael Comodeca
After a short vacancy, Cleveland State has welcomed a new coach to patrol the sidelines during next fall’s women’s basketball season.
The new coach is Chris Kielsmeier, who has over 20 years of collegiate coaching experience. His hiring makes him the seventh head coach in Cleveland State women’s basketball history.
His previously coached at Wayne State College, a Division II powerhouse. Kielsmeier compiled a 237-72 record at Wayne State over a 10-year span. He leaves the school as the all-time winningest coach.
Kielsmeier led the Wayne State Wildcats to seven 20-win seasons, several top-20 rankings, four Northern Sun Conference regular season titles, two Northern Sun Conference tournament titles and five berths to the NCAA Tournament.
During the 2011-12 season, Wayne State achieved its highest ranking in school history by finishing fourth in the USA Today/ESPN rankings. The school finished the season with a 32-3 record that year.
Kielsmeier was a two-time Northern Sun Conference Coach of the Year during his time at Wayne State.
He also spent eight years on the sidelines at Howard Payne University as the head women’s coach.
During his time at Howard Payne, he won a Division III National Title for the 2007-08 season and compiled a 179-44 record.
Kielsmeier left Howard Payne as their winningest coach in program history, which included three American Southwest Conference (ASC) titles. He won three ASC Coach of the Year awards, two Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Region Coach of the Year awards and a was named a WBCA National Coach of the year one time.
Kielsmeier has a combined record of 416-116 over his career. He has coached three All-Americans, five honorable mention All-Americans, over 50 all conference selections and two national Players of the Year. Another one of his major accomplishments includes coaching over 75 All-Academic Selections.
Over the past three years, Kielsmeier has been on the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Board of Directors Executive Committee. He was the only non-Division I coach on the panel.
Kate Peterson-Abiad, the former Cleveland State women’s basketball head coach, left Cleveland State as the winningest head coach in team history.
Kielsmeier has seven players returning from last year’s Vikings team, which finished fourth in the Horizon League.
Kielsmeier did not want to leave his job at Wayne State for just any job. He said it had to be the right place, which ended up being Cleveland State. He felt his 18 years as a head coach put him in a position to coach a Division I school.
“I feel like I spent 18 years working for this moment and preparing to coach at the highest level. I just wanted to be in the right place, if that meant a Division II school then that was fine,” Kielsmeier said. “I wasn’t going to take any Division I job, I wanted to be at a place that had tremendous people that had passion for athletics, and that was here.”