A sense of family has been a part of the women’s basketball program since it began in 1970. The late Harriett Crannell, a women’s athletics pioneer, led the program from its inception until 1986, when she turned it over to one of her former Millikin players, Lori Kerans ’85. Kerans has continued that sense of family during her 29 years leading the program.
“The women’s basketball coaching staff is filled with Millikin alumni who have walked the halls, cherished the history and traditions, and ‘worn the blue with pride,’” Kerans says. “These alumni have ‘come home,’ this time as coaches, to help provide the support, love and lessons that faculty and coaches shared with each of them during their time as students at Millikin. They appreciate how committed our student-athletes must be in order to be successful in the classroom, on the basketball court and in life.”
While several former players have helped Kerans coach the program over the years, the coaching staff for the 2014-15 season especially highlighted that feeling of returning home.
Former All-Conference performer and NCAA Final Four Most Valuable Player Joanna Conner ’06 finished her fourth season as Kerans’ top assistant, and this year, she was joined by former teammate Andrea Riebock Dorsey ’08. Dorsey joined the Big Blue staff after two years as a grad assistant at Texas Tech University and two years on the basketball staff at Franklin College. During her time at Millikin, Dorsey played on the Big Blue’s 2005 national championship team with Conner. In January, MU celebrated the 10th anniversary of that historic win, as well as the 30th anniversary of the 1985 team’s third-place finish in the national tournament.
Another former player, Tracie Yantis ’09, also joined the program this season as a volunteer assistant after serving as head coach of the girls basketball program for the Lutheran School Association of Decatur.
Completing his fourth season as a volunteer coach under Kerans was Jayson King ’11. Although he never wore the Big Blue uniform as a student, King was a student assistant for the women’s program during his days on campus.
Another member of the 2005 national championship team, Laura Zimmerman ’06, helps out the team by serving as a scout to get the Big Blue ready for its next opponent. Zimmerman returned to Millikin last fall as an adjunct professor in the biology department.
Two other Big Blue family members also serve the program. Coach Kerans’ father, Bob Kerans, and longtime assistant coach Dick Marshall – in his 20th year with the program – continued in their roles as advisers, scouts and recruiters this past season.
Bryan Marshall ‘85 is assistant athletic director for sports information and athletic communication. He has worked at MU since 2000.