Steele Tabbed As Northwest Nazarene Women's Hoop Coach

Thursday, August 11, 2016
by Northwest Nazarene Athletic Communications

NAMPA, Idaho — The Crusader women’s basketball team scored a major victory this week before the season even tips off.

Northwest Nazarene athletic director Kelli Lindley is pleased to announce the hiring of Steve Steele as the new head women’s basketball coach.

“We feel incredibly blessed to have someone with Steve’s background, experience, and character taking over our women’s basketball program,” Lindley said when introducing Steele as the Crusaders seventh head women’s basketball coach. “Having already coached in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, Steve understands what it takes to compete at this level, and the challenges and opportunities that exist.”

Steele, who spent the last five years as a top assistant in the NCAA Division II West Region, including the last three years at GNAC rival Seattle Pacific, said of taking over the NNU program: “First of all, I’m humbled and flattered that Kelli would consider me.

“I’m excited to work at NNU, there’s a lot of great people and talent here,” added Steele, who also was a top assistant at Concordia Irvine, his alma mater, for two season prior to his time at SPU.

Steele graduated from Concordia Irvine (Calif.) in 1999 with a Bachelor’s degree in Religion, received an Education Specialist Credential from National University (Calif.) in 2005, and his Master’s in Coaching and Athletic Administration from Concordia Irvine in 2013.

Prior to his five years experience as a top collegiate assistant, he spent 12 seasons as a top assistant at California powerhouse Brea Olinda High School where his team won the 2009 National Championship and had a combined record of 360-49.

Steele also taught special education and general education for 13 years at Brea Olinda and El Camino Real High Schools while coaching in California.

All those skills on the court and in the classroom will benefit the Crusaders new coach as he is certain that NNU already has the talent in place to be a power — not just in the GNAC — but in the NCAA D-II West Region.

“I’m not worried about the talent level,” Steele said, adding that he’s watched film of NNU and coached against the Crusaders the last three years, “but I want to get to know the players personally, and I want them to get to know me so we can learn how we can communicate and work together.

“I think right away the talent level is there to compete with anybody in the conference and anybody in the region,” added Steele, who steps in to lead a program that returns nine players from a GNAC playoff team last winter.

“Our conference is so talented, if you can finish in the top three or four in the GNAC you have a legitimate shot to win a national title,” NNU’s newest coach added. “That being said, there’s a slim margin between second and seventh, so there’s no nights off in the GNAC. A lot of times what that means, when it’s that deep, is the uncontrollables can determine three or four spots in the conference so we’re going to make sure we control what we can control.”

That obvious leadership, and understanding of the GNAC and West Region, were big draws in bringing Steele to NNU.

“It is clear that Steve has the knowledge and work ethic necessary to build a championship program,” Lindley said. “We look forward to supporting Steve and the women’s basketball team.

“We couldn’t be happier to welcome Steve, is wife Gwin, and their two children Jacob and Evan, to our NNU family.”

Steele, his wife, son (Jacob) and daughter (Evan), plan to arrive in Nampa near the start of the NNU academic year, though the new coach has already met with some of his Crusader players and will begin his role leading the team right away.

And part of that role will be learning more about his team and how he can best implement the style of play he’d like to see: Up-tempo.

“I personally like to coach, play, teach and watch more up-tempo basketball,” Steele said, though fans shouldn’t expect the Crusaders to fire up shots in seven seconds or play a full-court press all game, he adds.

“I’ll have to watch the players and see how we can do that,” Steele said of implementing his style in a way that compliments NNU’s current roster.

Steele takes over for former head coach Brian Holsinger who resigned last month to pursue a coaching position in the Pac 12.