Dream Destination: Sue Guevara talks NCAA run, contract extension
Sue Guevara doesn't like to toot her own horn and it's no secret.
But at the annual end-of-the-year banquet surrounded by the awards and accolades she and her team accumulated in their historic 2017-18 season, the women's basketball head coach came to a realization.
"When we were at the banquet, and they start talking about everything we have done since I've been here and I thought, 'Oh wow, I guess we have done a whole lot since we've been here," Guevara said.
Guevara called it her "Reflections of Passion," which is also the title of one of her favorite songs by the artist Yanni. While she hasn't completely come to terms with Central Michigan women's basketball's magical run to the Sweet 16, she hopes she can begin to fully appreciate the work that has been done.
"I don't give it a lot of thought and I'm looking forward to reading all of that," Guevara said. "I have to do a better job of really appreciating everything that my staff and I have been able to accomplish while we're here."
Central Michigan Life sat down with Guevara to talk about her NCAA Tournament run, new contract and her favorite moments from the best season in program history.
CM Life: You've always been appreciative of your fan base that follows the team everywhere you go, what can you say about the fans at CMU?
Guevara: It's a two-way street, they give to us and we give back. They make an impact on our lives and we make an impact on theirs. It's been a lot of fun to see the community of Chippewa nation when we are out and about. It's kind of funny when you're out there and you get a "Fire Up Chips," or "Hey coach, we saw your team play. We're now Chippewa fans."
When all the sports bars (in Mount Pleasant) are packed hours before game time to watch us play — that's awesome. That means those people are going to come back to McGuirk Arena, and some are going to come to McGuirk for their first time because of what they saw. The community support here has been unbelievable and I hope that it continues to grow.
How big was it for your program and the school to get their name out on a national level with the NCAA Tournament appearance?
(The program) was seen across the country in the Sweet 16. I mean, think about that. We were one of the Top 16 teams in the country.
We beat the Big 10 Champions, the Big 10 Tournament Champions (Ohio State) on their home court. So, when the announcers start talking about that, and they're talking about CMU women's basketball, it was a nice feather in the cap for all the Chippewas out there.
In your nearly 40-year career, have you ever had a better coaching experience than this season?
I've never coached a team like this before — never. I've been around some championship programs. I go back to the selflessness of this team. I go back to the work ethic of this team. It was never about an individual's effort as much as it was about the team. I know people say that all the time, but we did it for 35 games.
In your recent contract extension, how does it feel to have an athletic department that values your work and invests in your program?
I can't tell you how grateful I am for Michael (Alford), our first year athletic director. I'm very happy they see how far the program has come, and they know how I want to stay here.
This is not a transition job for me. I really love being at Central Michigan University. This is my destination job.
Juniors Presley Hudson and Reyna Frost are both back next year, along with freshman Micaela Kelly to round out your returning starters. Do you have any idea yet who you think will step up to fill the void left by your seniors Cassie Breen and Tinara Moore?
I've been having individual meetings with our players. I don't know if it's going to be one person, as much as it's going to be about people stepping up. I've had people tell me they want all the minutes, the majority of the minutes but with (freshman) Maddy Waters, (freshman) Sophia Karasinski, (sophomore) Gabby Bird, and (sophomore) McKenna Kelly, I expect them all to come in.
When people look back on this season, what do you hope they remember most about "Team 50?"
(People should know) how much fun we had. Winning is always fun, but how much fun we had and how much fun people had while watching us. I've had so many people tell me how free they played, and they passed the ball, they worked hard. We were just a joy to watch.