Hold up: Rademacher joins YSU

YOUNGSTOWN — Autumn Rademacher thought criminal justice would be a good major as her academic and athletic career came to an end in 1997 at the University of Detroit Mercy.

The 1993 Traverse City (Michigan) High School graduate had a different take when she encountered a professor.

“I think it was funny when I graduated, my criminal justice professor had said, “We actually have an opening in homicide in Detroit.” I said, “Oh wait, No.’ That’s what I’m qualified to do.”

She paused. Basketball had been her existence for the better part of her young life.

Shooting baskets, weaving through the opposition, the squeak of her high tops on freshly waxed floor. This, not solving murders, was her future.

She tried out and was cut from the WNBA, but she headed west from Detroit to Kalamazoo and started her coaching career at Western Michigan University as an assistant.

Rademacher spent seven years with the Broncos before joining Kevin Borseth’s staff at Green Bay, heading back to her roots within the Horizon League. When she played for the Titans, it was the Midwestern Collegiate Conference.

She was with the Phoenix from 2004-08 and was named head coach of Detroit Mercy from ’08-15. She spent the last couple of years at Arkansas State University as an assistant. Rademacher and the other staff was not renewed after last season at Arkansas State.

Ursuline High School graduate Courtney Davidson moved up to Hartford (Connecticut) University to take an assistant job there. That left an opening on the Penguins women’s basketball staff.

She’s known YSU coach John Barnes, a Michigan native himself, for at least two decades.

“I jumped at the chance,” Rademacher said.

Barnes said she’s a high-energy person and has done a great job wherever she has been. The experience and recruiting abilities she brings are second to none.

“It was a great, fortunate break for us that she was available and came” Barnes said.

There’s no adjustment period for Rademacher, who coached in the Sun Belt conference the last couple of years. She’s familiar with a bulk of the programs and coaches in the Horizon League.

The only thing that has changed this time around is the continued growth of the YSU program, which has multiple 20-win seasons and post-season appearances under Barnes.

She appreciates the culture the Penguins have built, trying to add to this “well-oiled machine.”

“I have not been around a program where there’s a lot of player-led leadership,” Rademacher said. “They feel comfortable stopping practice, saying this is what we need to do. I’ve never seen the players so vocal. You know that’s a real positive sign in your program when kids are making others accountable and get them in the gym shooting. They’re running over plays by themselves before practice.

“That kind of stuff can only lead to good things.”

She has seen the progress of the YSU team because more than a decade ago things were pretty bleak for this Penguins program — going 0-30 in the 2009-10 season.

That’s a distant memory, just like playing Detroit when Rademacher coached the Titans.

“I wasn’t so glad when she was the head coach at Detroit, but happy now she’s on our staff,” Barnes said.