I had the chance to talk today with WKU athletic director Todd Stewart about the current state of the Lady Topper program. WKU is 17-6, 10-4 Sun Belt Conference after finishing 9-21 a year ago.
I was going to save Stewart’s comments for Monday’s BGDN, but he had some very interesting insight on Michelle Clark-Heard, her player development and attendance, so I thought I would share tonight.
Look for more on the Lady Tops’ current direction, including thoughts from several of the program’s all-time greats, in Monday’s BGDN.
TODD STEWART, WKU athletic director
Overall thoughts on turnaround? “We certainly felt Michelle was the right person for the job and were very optimistic about the job she would do, but for us to be in the position we’re in right now, it’s exceeded expectations. I really felt the rebuilding process would take much longer than it has, and all the credit goes to Michelle.”
Improvement of Gooch and Govan: “Chastity went from not having a double-double as a freshman to possibly leading the nation this year. I think it’s the impact Michelle has had on her, and the same for Alexis. It’s not all about stats, but if you look at their numbers compared to last year, it’s like invasion of the body-snatchers. They’re totally different people from last year, and the staff deserves credit for that. Chastity and Alexis also deserve credit for never giving up, working hard and buying into coach Heard’s vision.”
What are your thoughts on attendance this year? “We had unfortunately gotten to a point that people quit coming to the games, and they found other things to do. We’ve got to get them back. It might take a season of winning to get people back. I’ve seen progress this year, but it’s not where it needs to be or deserves to be.”
What will it realistically take to bring people back regularly? “A lot of times, you actually have to out-win your crowds for a year. It takes a season of winning, and then people come back that second year. I think that even happened with football a little bit. I would anticipate, based on the fact that the whole team returns next year, that our crowds will be pretty strong next season.”