KOKOMO, Ind. - After returning home to serve as an International Baccalaureate counselor for the 2013-14 school year, a dream opportunity became enhanced when 1999 Kokomo High School graduate Heather Cusick was approved as the head coach of the Lady Wildkats varsity basketball program.
“I could not be more excited to be named the next head coach of the Kokomo Lady Kats’ basketball program,” Cusick said. “This is truly an honor to be able to return home to Kokomo and have the opportunity to build upon the already storied tradition that is Kokomo Basketball. Kokomo is a special place and the Lady Kats receive incredible support from this community, staff, and administration. I am so fortunate to work, and now coach, in a place that has meant so much to me.”
Cusick is part of that storied tradition as her 1999 Lady Kats team, then coached by Charlie Hall, made a run to the IHSAA Class 4A Final Four. She was later named an Indiana All-Star. She is third on the all-time Lady Wildkats scoring list with 1,391 career points and second for career assists (375) and career steals (349). She was also the Kats co-Most Valuable Player in 1998 and 1999.
Athletic Director Jason Snyder, who stepped down as the Lady Kats coach in March, noted that he was impressed with the quality of candidates for the position.
“We had an excellent pool of candidates for the position,” Snyder explained. “But Heather’s college level experiences and her college connections across the country will be a great asset to our future Lady Kats, as well as the program. With Heather at the helm, I feel the future is very promising for Lady Kats Basketball in Kokomo.”
Cusick praised the hard work by Snyder and his staff the past eight years.
“All the pieces are in place to continue to cultivate the work that has been completed by Coach Snyder,” Cusick said. “My hope is to not only win games and develop basketball talent, but also to lead and guide each young lady who goes through the Kokomo program from where she is to where she wants to be.”
Cusick played basketball at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Health and Sport Studies. From 1999 to 2003, she became the first and only player in Mid-American Conference women’s basketball history to reach 1,700 points, 500 assists, 400 rebounds, 300 steals and 200 3-point field goals. Cusick served as a 3-time team captain before becoming one of only two women at Miami to have their number retired. She was inducted in the Howard County Sports Hall of Fame in 2011 and the Miami University Athletic Hall of Fame in 2013.
Kokomo Interim Principal Dr. Mike Sargent believes Cusick is an outstanding selection.
“Coach Cusick is an excellent addition to the KHS head coaching staff,” Sargent said. “The Lady Kats girls basketball program has a tradition of success, and we are confident that under Coach Cusick’s leadership, the program will continue this long tradition. Heather’s experience as a player and coach will be a benefit to our student-athletes.”
After being selected as a Kodak All-American honorable mention in 2003, Cusick played for the BC Shooters professional basketball team in the Netherlands during the 2003-2004 season. One of the statistics that makes Cusick the proudest is the fact that she appeared in 116 contests at Miami University – never missing a game – while making 113 consecutive starts.
Mike Wade, director of human resources and operations, served on the selection committee and is happy with the choice.
“I am excited for Jason Snyder and the KHS athletic department,” Wade said, a previous Kokomo boys basketball coach and athletic director. “This selection will help Snyder make the transition because Heather Cusick brings a great resume, including playing and coaching experience, from all levels of play. Heather’s passion for Lady Kats basketball is contagious.”
After her one-year stint in professional basketball, Cusick served as director of basketball operations at Ball State University in 2004-2005, and then served in the same position from 2009 to 2013 at the University of Nevada, where she earned a Master’s Degree in Counseling and Educational Psychology. Cusick also served as the Lady Kats’ junior varisty and assistant varsity coach this past season.
“I am optimistic about the future of the Lady Kats’ basketball program, and I cannot wait to begin working with the young ladies who are, and will be, a part of the Kokomo Lady Kats’ basketball program,” Cusick concluded.
Courtesy of the Kokomo School Corporation