Former UConn Star and OU Coach Helping Local Athletes Achieve ExcellenceJan 16, 2018
Stacy Hansmeyer remembers what it felt like the first time she picked up a basketball.
“As soon as the ball was in my hands it just felt right,” said Hansmeyer.
Her instincts were spot on. Hansmeyer would go on to play for two of the best coaches in the nation. One was Sherri Coale, while Coale was at Norman High School before taking over the University of Oklahoma’s women’s basketball program. Then Hansmeyer played for Geno Auriemma, the legendary coach at the University of Connecticut who has led the Huskies women’s basketball team to 11 national championships. Hansmeyer won a state championship during her senior year at Norman and a national championship during her senior year at UConn.
“It was an incredible feeling to invest so much work to win a state title with Coach Coale at Norman,” said Hansmeyer, “And then to win a national championship at UConn was something I’ll never forget.”
Hansmeyer carries with her sincere appreciation for the lessons she learned under both coaches, lessons she’s instilling in the lives of young area athletes like Westmoore graduate and current Xavier University player Ashley Gomez. Her elite basketball camp helps prepare girls and boys, from those who aspire to play Division I basketball to those who merely hope to see more playing time in high school.
“Playing for Coach Cole and then playing for Coach Auriemma are two of the toughest things you can ever do in life,” said Hansmeyer, “I think the biggest lesson I learned from them and basketball is that if you give up some of who you are to something bigger than yourself it will come back to you tenfold.”
After graduating from UConn, Hansmeyer joined Coale on the OU coaching staff, where she continued to learn from the coach who turned the Sooner women’s program around. It was a natural transition for Hansmeyer. Her connection with Coale dated back to her first years of learning the game when her father signed her up for one of Coale’s basketball camps.
“I remember getting encouraging notes from her,” said Hansmeyer, “I would go to one of her camps, and when I got home there would be a note in the mail from her waiting for me.”
That encouragement was balanced by a lot of hard work in the gym as Hansmeyer embraced Coale’s call to excellence on the basketball court. The young high school star spent hours working on all elements of the game in high school. That hard work paid off with a scholarship offer to the University of Connecticut, home of the nation’s premier women’s basketball program.
“Reaching your maximum potential is not an easy thing to do,” said Hansmeyer, “You have plenty of up and down moments, but to leave high school with a state championship and then win a national title at UConn is the most unbelievable feeling. There’s this sense that all of the work, every second of the pain, was worth it.”
Hansmeyer smiles as she talks about the “blood, sweat, and tears” of her playing and coaching career and all of the basketball knowledge she has gained through those experiences. For the past five years, she has directed all that knowledge and most of her energy at helping local boys and girls realize their dreams of maximizing their potential. She does individual training on basketball skills for around 75 athletes a week and offers different camps based on the aspirations of players who come to train with her.
“The goal is to help each player maximize their potential,” said Hansmeyer, “It’s as rewarding to help a player who hasn’t been starting into a starter as it is to help someone become one of the best players in the state of Oklahoma.”
Westmoore graduate Ashley Gomez is one of the players in the latter group. Gomez began working with Hansmeyer while in high school and was named to the Oklahoma Coaches Association All-State team in 2016. After seeing little action during her freshman year at Xavier, Gomez returned home to work with Hansmeyer last summer. This year Gomez is averaging 14-minutes-per-game for the Musketeers. Gomez credits Hansmeyer with helping her reach a new skill level.
“I wouldn’t be where I am without Stacy,” said Gomez, “We worked hard over the summer, and it helped prepare me for the physicality of the college game.”
Hansmeyer points to Gomez as a great example of a player who has embraced the challenge to reach their highest potential, no matter what their basketball goals might be.
“I have an elite level camp that operates at a very high level,” said Hansmeyer, “They’re intense, 3-hour camps designed for kids who want to make it to the next level. But I also have camps where kids come in a learn skills in a more fun way.”
While her camps are available for boys and girls of various ages, Hansmeyer agrees with coaches who encourage younger athletes to try different sports before locking in on one choice.
“Parents need to allow kids a chance to find out what they’re good at and what they like while they’re young,” said Hansmeyer, “But I think that by the time they’re in high school it’s ok for them to focus on one sport, especially if they hope to play at the next level.”
And if they hope to be successful at any level Hansmeyer has one crucial piece of advice for every athlete, no matter what sport they play.
“I think the biggest thing I would tell kids is 'Don’t quit too soon,'” said Hansmeyer, “You see it so much these days, so many athletes transferring between programs because things aren’t going just the way they hoped. I think they miss a great opportunity because you miss a chance to learn important things about yourself that only a tough situation can show you.”
Hansmeyer says that helping kids achieve their dream, whether it’s a D1 scholarship or just more playing time on their team, is one of the things that motivates her. But she also relishes being an aunt to all of the nephews and nieces that come from having four sisters and one brother.
“Right now I am absolutely in a great part of my life,” said Hansmeyer, “I’ve got a great family who all live in Norman and spending time with them. I’ve been working with kids for five years now, so I’ve gotten to the point where they’re leaving me for college and then coming back to keep me updated on their college challenges. So it’s really fun seeing these younger kids grow up. Nothing motivates me more than seeing them get better and accomplish their goals.”