STORY BY ADAM ROGAN
Bry Mueller has been a part of Drake’s basketball program for three years, but will be playing in her first full season as an active member of the roster this year.
Mueller began as the team’s student manager until Drake head coach Jennie Baranczyk asked her to join the team as a player.
“When I transferred, I decided I wasn’t going to try to join the team,” Mueller said. “I just wanted to manage because I wanted to get into coaching, so I said I want to help out with the team. (Last year), we had a couple injuries and someone left the team … Jennie pulled me into her office and asked me if I wanted to join the team … I was pretty shocked that day, but it’s been uphill since then.”
Mueller received her bachelor’s degree in marketing last year after joining the team on the roster for the later part of the season. She is now working on her Masters of Business Administration, hoping to finish in one year before moving on to life after college.
“The goal would be to coach at the Division I level,” Mueller said. “Having played and managed and kind of been behind the scenes, you know, I love everything about basketball. It really has made me the person I am today and has kind of directed my life, and I would like to keep it that way and help others through basketball.”
Baranczyk spoke about Mueller’s preparation and maturity, saying Mueller could be ready to coach in the coming years.
“I think the part of coaching that a lot of young people have to understand, and I think Bry does a good job of it, is you do it because you love it. You do it because there’s nothing too big, and there’s nothing too small,” Baranczyk said. “She is developing a coach’s mind … and really be able to mentor in the sense of she’s going to bring it every day and she’s going to do whatever it is that we need her to do.”
Part of the mentality Mueller developed is a result of her involvement in the military. She spent her first two years of college at the Air Force Academy and played basketball for the school, before transferring to Drake as a junior.
“As much as I love the service … I kind of wanted to come back home,” Mueller said. “(The Air Force) wasn’t really my future as I wanted to stay with basketball. I wanted to get into coaching. And I didn’t see that me really doing that in the Air Force.”
Even though she did not remain at the Air Force Academy, Mueller said she still sees the impact her time there has had on her.
“It’s a good thing that I am a morning person, and the military kind of helped me out with that,” Mueller said. “I get up at 6:30 a.m. everyday, and I do a lot of homework.”
Mueller said she learned much more than just work ethic at the service academy, including a new perspective on competition.
“You think you know what team is … being an athlete my whole life … but we do it not just for each other in the Air Force. It was for people that we didn’t even know,” Mueller said. “We put ourselves through basic (training) and it was for such a bigger purpose and that kind of brought a different perspective to me.”
Mueller hopes to bring that new perspective to the Bulldog team this season.
“This is the best team I’ve ever played on … I think our opportunities are endless and I’m just excited to see what we do with the talent we have,” she said.
Baranczyk said she sees Mueller as one of her most rounded players on the roster. She makes positive contributions to her teammates everyday, both on and off the court.
“She’s a senior, she’s been around the game, she’s got maturity, she’s got an understanding of the big picture,” Baranczyk said. “She is one of those players (who) comes everyday to make everybody better and that’s pretty much what we need to get out of her.”