For the past 21 seasons, Allison Pohlman has been watching the basketball floor from the bench as an assistant coach. Beginning this November, though, she’ll get to stand as the new head coach of the Drake women’s basketball program.
“It definitely is a change,” Pohlman said. “Going from sitting on the sidelines to now standing.The biggest thing for me is to continue to trust the people on our staff.”
Although she’s a first-time head coach, Pohlman is not new to campus. Since her playing days at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI), where she was named to three All-Missouri Valley Conference teams and named Defensive Player of the Year, she has become familiar with the Knapp Center.
“I’m a strong Drake believer and fan,” Pohlman said. “I did, as a college athlete, walk into this very hostile environment and I grew a very large affinity for the place.”
After seven years of coaching at UNI, Pohlman brought her love for the Drake community to life and joined the coaching staff, eventually serving as recruiting coordinator and associate head coach of the program.
Senior forward Allie Woolridge said that not only did Pohlman inherit the program, but she is also now leading a group of women who she recruited.
“A lot of us advocated for her during the hiring process, so we were pretty excited that she was the one that they chose,” Woolridge said. “She’s the reason that a lot of us are in the program. She found us. There’s a lot of mutual respect between the players and her.”
Aside from being recruited by the new coach, fifth-year senior guard Hannah Fuller said that another key to her success is how hard she has worked to build a winning culture.
“We talk about culture a lot to make sure everyone is on the same page,” Fuller said. “She basically made her own culture. Our culture is to love basketball, love each other, love this community, love Drake and just really play hard.”
Since the 2017-18 season, the program has earned a combined 93-35 record, with three of those four seasons ending with single digit losses.
Fuller said hard work is the key for that to continue, and that she believes Pohlman is encouraging the right philosophy to make that happen.
“We just need to focus on getting one percent better every day, and just kind of being where our feet are,” Fuller said. “Not looking too far ahead, enjoying the present moment and each individual practice.”
The Allison Pohlman era will tip off on Wednesday, Nov. 3 when the Bulldogs host cross-town school Grand View University in a preseason exhibition game.
Pohlman said she’s excited to get going as the new head of the Drake Women’s Basketball program.
“You have to love who you’re doing this with,” Pohlman said. “You love not only your team but the place you’re at. So, back to the affinity for Drake and everyone being able to collectively do something for something bigger than what you are.”