August 26, 2004

Force Returns to Cornell as Coach of Former Team

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Last winter, Karen Force ’04 walked off the court at Newman Arena, her final home game of her career complete. This winter, the former All-Ivy point guard will be back on the sidelines at Newman Arena, although in a much different role, as Force was recently named an assistant coach of the women’s basketball team.

“I love the game so much, and I wasn’t ready to give it up after ending my career as a player,” said Force. “All throughout your senior year, whether you’re a student or a student-athlete, you’re trying to figure out what to do with that next year. I was thinking about coaching in one aspect or another.”

Force will serve as a volunteer assistant this season, juggling a job at CBORD in addition to her coaching responsibilities. She will be involved in many of the team’s basketball decisions and will work with the guards alongside assistant coach Val Klopfer. Force has also been organizing several different things such as the team’s golf outing in September, the Cornell Kids’ Club, the Alumni Game and basketball clinics for the community.

The team will benefit from adding another point guard to the coaching staff, as both head coach Dayna Smith and Klopfer played the position in college.

“We’re a completely new team, a different team losing five starters, so Karen won’t have the luxury of just teaching the next point guard what the offenses were last year,” said Smith. “I think she understands what we expect out of a point guard, what I expect out of a point guard, and I think especially with our four freshmen coming in, Karen’s going to be great helping them out, teaching them the ropes.”

After serving as a captain for three seasons, Force will have a markedly different role now that she is in the coaching ranks, but her leadership experience during her playing days will help her in her new position.

“As you go through periods of your life, I think any leadership role that you have is important to any job that you have in the future, whether it’s five or ten years ahead or whether it’s just next year, like in my case,” said Force. “I think that being a captain has been beneficial in many ways. It’s helped me better lead on the court and hopefully I can take those leadership skills to this perspective of the game.”

For the returning members of the team from last season, it will be different experience for them now that their former captain is one of their coaches.

“As far as the players are concerned, it’s always nice to have someone you’re comfortable with join a coaching staff. When someone new joins, there’s a lot of unknowns, so for them, they know who Karen is, they know she loves the program, and she’s going to work very hard,” Smith said.

Force finished her playing career on the East Hill as the program’s all-time assist leader and became the first player ever in the league to amass 1250 points and 400 assists. She became the first Cornell player to be named to the All-Ivy first team as a junior, and was a second team selection her senior year.

Archived article by Jonathan Auerbach
Sun Staff Writer