Leading together

Joe Murphy

Bodnar and Lindsay coach success in women’s basketball

Thirty-three combined seasons at Kent State. Four NCAA Tournament appearances. Nine 20-win seasons. Forty-six players selected to the All-Mid-American Conference team.

It’s all part of the legacies of women’s basketball coach Bob Lindsay and associate head coach Lori Bodnar.

The two have worked together to turn Kent State women’s basketball into one of the most highly respected programs in the country.

When Lindsay took the helm at Kent State in 1989, after six seasons as an assistant at Holy Cross, he inherited a team that fell victim to 17 consecutive losses. He also received an assistant coach who had arrived the previous year from a job at Buckeye Trail High School in Old Washington, Ohio.

Kent State women’s basketball had hit rock bottom.

Lindsay’s first season: 5-22 overall, 3-13 in the MAC.

Since then: 296-138 overall, 188-59 in the MAC.

When Lindsay won his 300th game on Feb. 5, against Akron, he didn’t waste much time deflecting the spotlight off himself and onto Bodnar and the rest of his staff.

“The 300 wins has more to do with the people on this staff, especially coach Bodnar,” Lindsay said. “It’s about good players, good coaches, and good recruiting. She’s been the mainstay in this program. I’m grateful every day she’s a part of this program. She’s had a great relationship with most of the players over the years.”

Bodnar, who has been the leader in the recruitment process over the years, has shifted job duties and says she is not the main recruiter anymore.

In 2002, Bodnar’s official title changed from assistant coach to associate head coach. As far as Lindsay giving her a lot of credit for his 300 wins, Bodnar doesn’t want to hear it.

“I would say thank you, but I credit him for a lot of it,” she said. “He’s a fantastic coach. Never in my umpteen years here have the kids doubted him. They really believe in what he’s doing here. It’s a credit to him. Kent State is really lucky to have him.”

Bodnar has also been on board with Lindsay every step of the way. She has turned down head coaching opportunities elsewhere, and she sees blue and gold in her future for years to come.

“People always think the grass is greener on the other side,” she said. “Kent State is a nice place to be working. I would love to be a head coach someday, but the right one has to come along. Coach Lindsay gives out a lot of responsibility. I know when I leave, I would succeed because I have coach Lindsay mentoring me.”

The success for Lindsay and Bodnar’s team over the years has started off the court. Both coaches have worked to develop a relationship with the players that is more than just three hours in practice and two hours in a game. For them, it’s preparing students for a post-college life, which will mean a life without basketball for most.

After 16 seasons together, the two coaches have found that with anything, there are similarities and differences, ups and downs. Both expect a lot out of every student who puts on a Kent State uniform. Sometimes they get it; sometimes they don’t. While the results may vary, coach Lindsay’s approach always remains the same.

“I’m very honest,” Lindsay said. “When a player needs a bit of reality, they get it. If they need a pat on the back, they’re not going to get it from me. My expectation level is very high. They need to understand there are no shortcuts. Hopefully, five years after college, they will understand why they were pushed so hard.”

While Bodnar is no softy herself, she says she is someone players can talk to when they don’t want to go to Lindsay.

Both coaches have stressed the importance of communication. The team has a rule that each player needs to stop in a coach’s office once a day outside practice to talk. They can stay as long as they want and can talk about whatever they want.

In the end, the coach’s door is always open, and so is the future of Kent State women’s basketball.

Contact women’s basketball reporter Joe Murphy at [email protected].