Women's Basketball Coach Cheryl Cole Reaches Coaching Milestone
When the buzzer sounded in Memorial Hall on February 20, SUNY Plattsburgh women’s basketball coach Cheryl Cole treated it like any other win. She didn’t realize the 67-52 triumph over The College at Brockport was her 200th win as the Cardinals’ head coach until someone told her later.
Four days later, the basketball season ended with a tough, one-point loss to Oneonta in the quarterfinals of the SUNYAC tournament.
“I’d much rather trade in any of those [wins] for that one,” Cole said. “It’s just heartbreaking. I’ve been much more proud of us winning games than my own personal records.”
More than Wins and Losses
Still, 200 is a big number.
In Cole’s 18 seasons as coach, she has brought the team to 14 SUNYAC tournaments. Last year’s campaign included a SUNYAC title and a subsequent birth in the national NCAA tournament. Her milestone comes during the same season that men’s basketball coach Tom Curle notched his 200th win, setting a new program record.
As a successful college athlete herself, Cole said she has learned what really matters — teammates and time spent together rather than wins or losses.
“You remember the big ones, like my players will never forget winning the SUNYAC championship last year,” Cole said, “but you forget the other ones.”
Besides obsessing over the competition and always-changing routine, Cole loves seeing her players transition into outstanding professionals and family members.
“I can’t be more proud than when I see a player come in as a freshman and what they’re like when they graduate four years later.”
Cole said she started coaching for the love of the game. She keeps coaching because she is always learning something new.
“The time to get out of coaching is when you know it all,” she said.
The constantly evolving program and atmosphere requires adaptability, whether it’s a new set of players or a new routine. Over the years, she has learned to be more open to her team’s needs and aware that what she sees from the sidelines may be different from what’s actually going on with her players.
“Listening to them better,” Cole said. “That’s made me a better coach.”