SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Sometimes, life just has a way of bringing you back.

“The city of Springfield is just amazing. It’s a nice college town to kind of grow up in, but I never thought I’d be back here,” Hailey Diestelkamp said. “And I’m very fortunate to be back for sure.”

Late last month, Missouri State announced Hailey Diestelkamp would be the new Director of Basketball Operations for Lady Bear basketball.

A potential launching pad for her own coaching career.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better staff to kind of teach me how to go about everyday life with administration with the sport in general,” Diestelkamp said. “And so (Lady Bears head) Coach (Beth) Cunningham is a phenomenal coach, she’s a phenomenal life coach. She’s taught me so much already, and I’ve known her for like a month and a half.”

“Certainly you learn quickly that both Kenzie and Hailey are big names in this area, but ultimately Hailey wants to coach,” Cunningham said. “She understands this is a great opportunity, a great step for her to learn a great deal but really help us behind the scenes. And more than anything, you know, I think she seems to be a great person, somebody that our kids can really look up to as well as she can help mentor and develop them off the court.”

Diestelkamp’s Springfield legacy began across Chestnut at Drury.

She was a two-time player of the year, set the school’s all-time scoring and rebounding records and now has her 34 jersey high above the floor at the O’Reilly Family Events Center.

“Being over here is different, but it’s also just right across the street that I can go back and I can catch a few games and see people that come to the games all the time,” Diestelkamp said. “So and it’s nice to walk in the gym and see my jersey hanging out there. Just a special memory that will always be special to me.”

After two years as a GA at Saint Louis University, the Owensville native finds herself back in the 417.

“Coming back was just felt like home to me,” Diestelkamp said. “I can drive home whenever I want, but still be here, be my own person. I Got my first apartment, so it’s my first real job and so I, I just think it’s kind of crazy. That came full circle and is back at Springfield.”

Just with less time in sneakers, and more time with a clipboard.

“I’m observing and learning on the court,” Diestelkamp said. “Game days, they’re getting better. I’ve positioned myself to like watching the game and enjoying watching the game, and I think that’s just going to be my life from here on out. So I have to kind of accept that.”