In four years playing women's basketball at UW-Stevens Point and the last 11 years serving as the associate head coach for the Pointers, Diane Gilbert has come to appreciate the importance of stability in a college athletics program.
That's what the 37-year-old Monroe native hopes to bring to the women's golf program at the NCAA Division III school.
Gilbert was named this week as the Pointers third coach in as many seasons, a trend she is looking to stop as she sets the same standards for the women's golf program that she has helped instill in the women's basketball program. She will continue to serve under basketball coach Shirley Egner in the role of associate head coach for a program that has enjoyed nine winning seasons in her 11 years, with two WIAC regular-season titles and four tournament titles.
A full-time member of the Pointers athletics staff, Gilbert is an experienced recruiter in the region and is familiar with the current women's golfers through her work as the compliance officer. She was a student-athlete at UWSP and member of the 2002 women's basketball national championship team.
"I am a big advocate for (NCAA) Division III athletics," Gilbert said Thursday during this week's Wisconsin.Golf Conversation. "I think it embodies an entirely different animal within collegiate athletics. I don't think you understand until you go through it. A lot of people talk about scholarships (at other levels), talk about how they want to sign on that dotted line and get that money.
"Division III just provides a pureness of ... love for the sport and just wanting to grow within your sport as you are pursuing a career."
In our conversation comparing what Gilbert has learned in her decade on the basketball recruiting trail with what she expects to find recruiting golfers, she emphasized the message to future Pointers is the same as it is to the golfers currently on the roster: She is here to bring the program stability.
"This hire, for them, is about stability and being able to have that person to go to on campus, be more a part of our athletic department than they have been in the past," Gilbert said. "To just give them the best student-athlete experience that I can."