SPRINGFIELD, Mo–It can be very intimidating to step into the Drury womens basketball program as its head coach.
In 25 years, the Lady Panthers have done nothing but win.
The best winning percentage in all of NCAA division two.
But that’s the challenge that Kaci Bailey grabbed Wednesday.
Drury athletics director Nyla Milleson handed over her coveted Lady Panther basketball program to a trusted friend and colleague Kaci Bailey.
Bailey was Milleson’s assistant coach for four seasons at NCAA division one George Mason.
“She’s one I’ve been able to witness so many great qualities. As I mentioned, I watched her fail and then get back up and the determination. So many good things. And she’s going to be able to continue the success of this program,” said Milleson.
Bailey’s mission is not to simply be a friend, it’s also to win.
That was evident by the NCAA tournament trophies that were on display.
“Yes as soon as I saw the trophies when I walked in early this morning, I texted my family. I was like, they have all their trophies out in front. Not intimidating. But we will be about winning,” said Bailey.
Kaci Bailey spent the last two seasons turning around the Quincy womens program in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.
She coached against the Lady Panthers and nearly upset them last month.
Before that Bailey was an assistant coach at Wichita State, Central Arkansas and Henderson State.
Bailey played her college ball at Southern Illinois.
It’s a resume she feels has prepared her for this Drury program that’s won 607 games, 12 conference championships, five regional titles and appeared in three Final Fours.
Bailey:”When I accepted, I was like, this is going to be fun. This is going to be fun. I looked at her and said, you’re not going to let me fail. And I’m not going to let you down.”
Bailey’s first task is to build a relationship with the seven returning players, and the recruits.
And players like Allie Clevenger like what they’ve seen so far.
“I was definitely nervous. Everyone around us was nervous. Nobody really knew what to expect. And just bringing in someone who values relationships with us. And values winning. That’s what our program is all about. That was just a big sigh of relief for us,” said Clevenger.
25 years ago, Nyla Milleson founded the Lady Panthers program.
Wednesday she knows its future is in trusted hands.
“There’s a tradition here to win. I’m all about give me a challenge. Yea there’s no doubt there’s pressure walking into this situation to win and uphold. There’s no doubt we’re going to sustain what’s been done here,” said Bailey.