July 16, 2002
STAFF SET AS CUSHING JOINS HUSKIE PROGRAM, DART TAKES TOP ASSISTANT ROLE
Illinois University women's basketball coach Carol Hammerle has her own
agenda for the 2002-03 season, pointing the Huskies toward a run at the
Mid-American Conference championship. The veteran sideline boss solidified
her supporting cast for that journey Tuesday (July 16), naming Jerilyn
Cushing as an assistant coach. Hammerle also promoted Rhonda Dart to the
top assistant position and a role as recruiting coordinator.
The changes follow
the departure of Emily Bauer, who was named the head women's basketball
coach at North Central College in May. Bauer had served on Hammerle's
staff for nine seasons---five at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
and four at Northern Illinois---prior to taking the reins at the Division
III school located in Naperville, IL.
Cushing spent the
past three years as an assistant coach at the College of Charleston, helping
the Cougars to a 14-14 ledger last season under veteran head coach Melissa
Slone. Her responsibilities included on-court practice and game coaching,
plus coordinating individual workout sessions. She also developed a scouting
and game editing system, and coordinated all aspects of the Charleston
Under Cushing's direction,
Becky Wollenberg finished third in the Southern Conference with 2.35 three-point
field goals per game. Her 39.4 percent touch behind the arc was fourth
on the final SC charts.
"Jerilyn will be a big addition to our team. I'm excited about what
she will bring to our program and our staff," Hammerle explained.
"She can provide input and help us on offense. At Charleston, she
was their coach at the offensive end. So she brings a lot to the table."
In addition to her
coaching duties, Cushing served as recruiting coordinator for the Cougar
program, establishing regional contacts and evaluating prospective student-athletes.
Her list of recruits includes Wilma Simpson, who became the 2000 Southern
Conference Freshman-of-the-Year after leading the Cougars in scoring (13.4
ppg), rebounding (8.2), and steals (56), while leading the league in blocked
shots with 30. Last winter, Simpson was sixth in the league in rebounding
(7.6 per game) and 11th in scoring (11.6 per contest).
Due in large part
to Cushing's recruiting efforts, CofC reached the .500 mark last fall
for the first time since 1990-91. The Cougars won just four of 27 games
in her first season in Charleston before an 11-17 record in 2000-01 and
the 14-14 standard last winter.
Cushing has been active
in the Charleston community, participating in the Alley-Oop Mentoring
Program with Girl Scouts and Big Brothers-Big Sisters. That program received
a national grant and is the prototype for a Girl Scouts of America initiative
Prior to her tenure
at Charleston, Cushing was an assistant on the University of Tampa team
which compiled an 18-10 ledger in the
1998-99 campaign. She coordinated recruiting and scouting efforts, paving
the way for UT to win 20 games and capture the Sunshine State Conference
title the following year after her departure to CofC.
Her resume features
an NAIA Division II national championship from her one year (1997-98)
on the bench at Walsh University in North Canton, OH. She joined the WU
program as an assistant just before the start of that season, taking responsibility
for on-court instruction with the team's post players. She helped the
Cavaliers post a 29-5 overall record, the best in program history.
the opportunity to play for two different coaches and has already gained
a wide range of experience in her coaching career. Between Walsh, Tampa
and Charleston, she has a great deal of experience. She will definitely
help, especially with our post players. Off the court, she had made a
lot of good contacts in recruiting, and her enthusiasm and excitement
will add a spark to the program."
Cushing is a veteran
of the Mid-American Conference, playing two years at the University of
Akron. She lettered two seasons (1992-94) at Eastern Kentucky University
before transferring to UA for her final two campaigns. After a knee injury
ended her days on the floor, she served one year (1996-97) as a student
assistant coach for the Zips to begin her coaching credentials.
The 28-year-old Cushing
earned a bachelor of science degree in education from Akron in 1997, specializing
in elementary education. She added a master of science degree the following
Dart re-joined former
UWGB mentor Hammerle on the Huskie sidelines in 1998, working with the
Huskie guards in practice. The promotion to top assistant and recruiting
coordinator represent the latest step on a rapid rise for the Tomah, WI,
The 27-year-old Dart
spent one year as a graduate assistant at Seton Hall University before
joining the Northern Illinois staff prior to the 1998-99 campaign. Her
work was critical in the Huskies' resurgence, posting a 17-13 record last
winter---the program's first winning season since 1994-95 and the best
mark by an NIU team since a 24-6 ledger in 1993-94. Dart's students include
current senior Kristan Knake (Marengo), who earned Honorable Mention All-MAC
acclaim with 12.0 points per game plus 80 assists and 67 steals (fourth-best
in the league) last winter.
"Rhonda has paid
her dues in the coaching ranks. She started here as a third assistant
four years ago and has worked extremely hard to get to this position,"
Hammerle said. "As excited as I was for Emily to get a head coaching
job, I'm equally happy for Rhonda. This is an opportunity she deserves.
"I haven't had
anyone with the title of recruiting coordinator before. Rhonda will take
the lead on our recruiting efforts, but it will continue to be a team
effort," the Huskie boss added. "Rhonda, Jerilyn and (assistant
coach) Charmonique Stallworth will all play roles in the recruiting process.
Their diverse backgrounds will make a great team."
Dart excelled on the
court for Hammerle at UWGB for four seasons (1992-96), helping the Phoenix
to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 1994. The highly-decorated
backliner became the first player in school history to collect both 100
steals and 100 assists in the same season as a senior while leading the
Phoenix to a 20-9 record. Her 103 thefts were a single-season school record.
She capped her playing career with Midwestern Collegiate Conference All-Defensive
Team honors and a spot on the MCC All-Tournament Team in 1996.
With the Phoenix,
she collected 561 points and 311 assists in addition to her defensive
Dart earned her bachelor
of science degree in human biology and exercise physiology from UWGB in
1997. She received her masters degree in communications from NIUs
Graduate School in May, 2000.
by Robert Hester