PELLA—Determined to bring championships to the program he first joined as a player 22 years earlier, Joe Steinkamp takes over as head coach of Central College men’s basketball.
A 2003 graduate of Central and a former Dutch co-captain, Steinkamp has coached the school’s women’s basketball for the past five years after spending 10 years as Central’s men’s basketball assistant. In 2017, he inherited a women’s program that was coming off a 4-21 season and hadn’t had a winning record since 2002. Steinkamp quickly began a turnaround, leading the Dutch to conference tournament berths in 2019-20 and 2020-21, the programme’s first tournament appearances since 2004-05. In 2021, Central advanced to the semi-finals for the first time since 2001 and Central’s 15 wins in 2019-20 were the most since 1997-98.
A young team suffered a disrupted schedule last season, finishing 6-15, but all five starters return for 2022-23, including two players from all conferences. It’s hard for Steinkamp to leave, he said.
“Coming back to the conference tournament and winning a tournament game, there’s definitely some momentum there,” Steinkamp said. “It’s still a young team and the future is very bright.”
Although Steinkamp will not be the one to lead this team in the future, he said he is delighted that staying at Central will give him a front row seat to watch the team continue their rise. And he is grateful for the time he shared with the team.
“It’s the only job I would have considered leaving the women’s program for,” he said. “I just want to thank the players I have coached for their hard work and I want them to know how much I appreciate being a part of their lives too.”
Even after the men’s basketball center coach resigned Craig Douma at the end of the season, Steinkamp said the position was not on his radar. But he was recently contacted by the sports director Eric Van Kleywho saw a chance to improve both programs.
“We are committed to doing everything we can to ensure the success of Central’s women’s and men’s basketball programs,” Van Kley said. “We have carefully reviewed the situation and believe we have a great opportunity here with Joe. We believe he has done a tremendous job helping the women’s program build positive momentum and we can further accelerate that in the seasons. to come. At the same time, Joe has been on several men’s championship teams here and is passionate about Central’s men’s basketball. Joe knows Central, he knows our alumni and we believe he is the best person to lead our program .
“Joe is a character coach who cares about his players. He can not only help them succeed on the pitch, but also in their development off the pitch as students and in their daily lives. There are challenges ahead, but he is committed to making this program a winner and no one is going to top him to make that happen.”
Van Kley said the search for a new women’s basketball head coach is already underway.
“We’re excited about what we’re seeing in the women’s basketball program and the young players we have,” Van Kley said. “We have made a lot of progress and it is essential that we do not lose this momentum. Our priority is to help support student-athletes in both the men’s and women’s programs. We will act carefully but quickly to help ensure this. “
Steinkamp’s commitment to Central’s men’s basketball runs deep.
A two-time letter winner at Central, Steinkamp spent a year as a graduate women’s basketball assistant coach at Loras College where he earned a master’s degree, followed by a season as a junior men’s varsity coach. at Central and a year as a volunteer assistant at Lewis University. (I go.). He was an assistant to former Dutch coach Mike Boschee from 2006 to 2012, then returned to help Douma from 2013 to 2017. Steinkamp helped lead Iowa’s conference championship teams in 2010 and 2014 and the participants in the NCAA Division III Tournament in 2010, 2014 and 2016.
“I’ve been in center basketball for almost half my life,” he said. “Some of my fondest memories, both personally and professionally, are with the basketball program. There is such a family atmosphere and there are so many proud alumni I have played and coached with. I just look forward to working hard to get back from being a program that competes for championships and comes back to the national tournament.”
Steinkamp is convinced that it can happen.
“In the last six or seven years in the program, I think we’ve won more conference and championship games, both tournament and regular season, than any other school,” he said. . “I think I have a good idea of what it takes to win at Central. We’ve done that before and now we can add the new facilities we have and the momentum we have in our department. ‘Athletics.”
Central recently completed an $18 million renovation/expansion of the PH Kuyper Gymnasium, which includes spacious new locker rooms for the men’s and women’s programs.
Steinkamp’s message to current and potential players is clear.
“I don’t think anyone loves Central basketball more than I do and I understand what it means to play for Central and what it takes to win at Central,” he said. “We will be playing a brand of basketball that is exciting to watch and exciting to play. We will have players who are willing to work very hard and do whatever it takes to make this a program that our alumni and our players are proud of.”