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'No place I'd rather be': Heather Oesterle takes over for Guevara as women's basketball coach

Central Michigan women's basketball head coach Heather Oesterle speaks to the media and community at her introductory press conference July 12 at John G. Kulhavi Events Center.

Heather Oesterle has been named the 12th head coach for the Central Michigan women's basketball team. 

Oesterle has been an assistant coach within the program for the previous nine seasons under former head coach Sue Guevara, who announced her retirement July 12. 

A product of Guevara at the University of Michigan, Oesterle has coached at Stanford, Northern Illinois and Miami (Ohio) before returning to Guevara's tutelage in Mount Pleasant. 

"When I first interviewed with (Guevara) nine years ago, she told me she was looking for someone to mentor and take over the program someday," Oesterle said. "I knew that this day would happen at some point, but I didn't know when. 

"There's no place I'd rather be and the mentoring (Guevara) has given me has really helped prepare me for this next step." 

Oesterle takes over a program that has won three straight Mid-American Conference regular season championships and two consecutive berths in the NCAA Tournament.

Still, Oesterle says that will not be an intimidating factor as she takes the reins of the program. 

"I think it'll be an easy transition," Oesterle said. "(Guevara) has been gone for the last two months, so I've been running practice and every part of the program. I think that's helped me with the players especially, because they heard my voice in practice the last three weeks." 

One of Oesterle's main points of emphasis has been community outreach. The team can almost always be seen interacting with children in the kids clinics following games in McGuirk Arena or in summer camps. 

Oesterle said that her players are great role models and wants the next generation to learn from their heroes on the hardwood. 

"Our team has such great role models that I want to get them in front of as many young girls as possible," Oesterle said. "We go out and run a couple clinics, we've done one in Mount Pleasant, we've done one in Midland. We like to get out and see and touch as many kids as possible because (the team) are such great role models." 

When Guevara made her decision to retire, she wanted CMU Athletic Director Michael Alford to give Oesterle the highest consideration to be her successor. 

From him, that's what Guevara wanted for her 65th birthday.

"I want you to give Heather a hard, hard look," Guevara said to Alford on July 8. "She has earned this position, she's been by my side for nine years. She's helped me carry out my vision for this program."

In the latest in a series of coaching changes, Alford said that Oesterle is the right fit for the job. 

He and Guevara have had a plan for Oesterle to take over almost instantly when he arrived in Mount Pleasant. 

"When I got here two years ago, I knew we had some coaches that were close (to retirement)," Alford said. "(Guevara) and I have an open line of communication, and we've had a plan put in place for years. We couldn't be more excited for what Heather will do for the program."