Former player and coach now work alongside one another

Anne Buie

Many athletic coaches form a bond with their players that comes from spending countless hours and days together. Here at Appalachian State, two of the women’s basketball coaches have been building this bond since 1995 before coming to Boone.

Head coach Darcie Vincent and associate head coach Heather Kearney met each other at Slippery Rock when Vincent was coaching the then-player Kearney.

Now the two coach alongside each other at Appalachian. Both women bring something special to the team – something that comes from their previous time together.

“I think it’s everything she learned as a player and the way she played the game – now she’s coaching it that way,” Vincent said. “She’s doing the exact same thing, just with a different hat.”
Vincent is considered to be one of the finest defensive minds in the nation, and it shows by the way she coaches her team.

“I always felt as a player that you knew, every second of the game, just by how she coached, that she had just as much intensity,” Kearney said. “She was there with you. I think all the players feed off that kind of energy and excitement.”

Coupled with Kearney’s aggressive, fast-paced offense, the team has consistently been improving in the Southern Conference.

“There’s no way any head coach can be great at two things,” Vincent said. “…I have somebody that just completely makes us a double whammy. She’s led the conference in output in the last two or three years.”

The relationship is strong because the women are so similar.

“Our core values are the same,” Vincent said. “How we want to coach this game is so similar, you would have no idea who you were talking to.”

Much of the similarity comes from Kearney having played under Vincent and coached alongside her at California, Pa. and at Appalachian.

“I understand exactly what her expectation level is and I just kind of grew up under that frame of reference in terms of basketball,” Kearney said. “The fundamentals that were important to her were instilled in me from when I was 18 years old.”

The two coaches balance each other out, and that makes for a better and stronger women’s basketball program here at Appalachian.

“No head coach can be great at two things,” Vincent said. “Either you’re an offensive coach or a defensive coach, and when you’re trying to do both, one or the other suffers. We’re the double whammy of having both sides.”

Story: KAITLYN THRUSTON, Senior Sports Reporter