There’s no need to research the qualifications of the Indiana Fever’s new assistant coach.
Gail Goestenkors is backed up by alarmingly impressive numbers, including seven ACC Coach of the Year plaques and a career win percentage most in her chosen profession can only dream of having.
Which begs the question: What is Coach G doing helping first-year Fever coach Stephanie White conduct practices?
Very simply, the basketball teaching instincts within the 52-year-old Michigan native took over.
Ironically, by working with White, Goestenkors finds herself reunited with someone who played a major role in one of her most painful losses as a women’s basketball coach.
“It’s really amazing,” said Goestenkors, whose 1999 Duke University squad lost 62-45 in the NCAA Women’s National Championship Game to Purdue, which featured White, a 5-foot-9 senior guard who would score 12 points in the finale.
“And I also coached Stephanie with USA Basketball with the Jones Cup team where we won the silver medal (in 1997) in Taiwan. Now we’re working together in different roles. There’s great familiarity. And there’s always been a tremendous level of (mutual) respect.”
A former Purdue assistant coach, Goestenkors was Duke’s coach for 15 seasons (1992-2007), which included a record of 396-99, four trips to the NCAA Women’s Final Four and a second runner-up finish for her Blue Devils in 2006.
She then chose to exchange Duke blue for the burnt orange of the University of Texas, where in five seasons the Longhorns were 102-64 and NCAA Tournament qualifiers every year.
Citing coaching fatigue, Goestenkors resigned in March 2012 with two years remaining on her seven-year contract.
After not coaching at all in 2012-13, she resurfaced during the 2014 WNBA season as an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Sparks for 22 games. Goestenkors was given the option of remaining on staff after head coach Carol Ross was fired following a 10-12 start, but she elected to resign.
A phone call from White steered Goestenkors toward Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
“She called me, but I think on the recommendation of (former Fever assistant) Mickie DeMoss and Lin Dunn because (White) and I both worked with Lin,” said Goestenkors, who was Dunn’s assistant in West Lafayette from 1987-92.
“And Mickie worked for me a couple of years at Texas, as well.”
Last season’s stint in Los Angeles represented the first time in more than two decades Goestenkors’ jobtitle was something other than head coach.
She’s loving every minute of it.
“Right now it’s such a good time in my life. When I stopped coaching in college I was so fatigued. College is 24/7, 365, whereas in the pros you’re very intense for about six months,” Goestenkors said.
“I’m really loving being an assistant coach. It’s nice to just feel like you’re helping somebody else. You can offer suggestions, and they can take them or not take them.
“The buck stops with that person, but the pressure is ultimately on that person.”
For a first-time head coach like White, having a Coach G one or two seats over during Fever games can only be viewed as a positive.
“I’ve been in that seat where (White) is now. I understand and appreciate the pressures involved, and I can see the big picture,” Goestenkors said.