Former Kirkwood national champion Courtney Boyd finds coaching success with Clarke women's basketball

Keokuk native has won 32 games in two seasons as Clarke head coach, including school record-tying 20 in 2017-18

Clarke head coach Bourtney Boyd yells to players from the sidelines during the second quarter at a Mount Mercy Universit
Clarke head coach Bourtney Boyd yells to players from the sidelines during the second quarter at a Mount Mercy University women’s basketball game with Clarke University at the Hennessey Recreation Center in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Courtney Boyd has long exhibited the necessary traits of a successful women’s basketball coach.

Advanced knowledge of the game. Heightened competitive fire. Resolute work ethic.

Attributes that helped the former Kirkwood women’s basketball player win a national title as a player continue to hold true in her second season as a head coach at NAIA-level Clarke University.

“I always knew that I wanted to give back somehow,” Boyd said. “This is how I get my competitive fix. … It keeps you young, it keeps you excited, it keeps you fiery and I think that that’s the part that I like about it.”

Boyd, 32, was a point guard at Kirkwood for two seasons under the direction of longtime Coach Kim Muhl. The Eagles posted a 67-4 record in her two seasons, including a national runner-up finish in 2006, then the first of four consecutive national championships a year later.

“Very knowledgeable about the game,” Muhl said. “Extremely competitive. Great teammate. She had some really nice things she did on and off the floor. That’s why she’s coaching right now. … I thought she would be successful at whatever she did because she worked at whatever she did and got better.”

Boyd finished her playing career in Utah at Division-II Dixie State University, where she was the PacWest Conference Newcomer of the Year as a junior. After graduation, the Keokuk native returned to Iowa and accepted a volunteer assistant coaching position at Iowa Wesleyan, the first of four assistant jobs that included NAIA Grand View and NCAA Division-II programs Augusta (Ga.) University and Wis.-Parkside.

At age 28, Boyd received her first head coaching job at AIB College of Business in Des Moines. After one season at the helm (2014-15), the school announced it would permanently close.


“You just learn a lot of different things,” Boyd said. “You learn about yourself as a leader or how you want to lead. You learn the difference in personalities and not everything has to be done a certain way. … I was fortunate to have great head coaches, great bosses that really challenged me and just kind of put me in situations where they asked me how successful do I want to be and so they never let me just settle and get comfortable, so I appreciate that as well.”

Through all of her various coaching stops, Boyd credits the mentoring influence of Muhl in areas ranging from on-court strategy to recruiting.

“He’s a lot of the reason why I am where I am,” Boyd said. “He taught me a lot of things about myself. He challenged me in different ways that I was never challenged before.”

A second head-coaching opportunity arrived at Clarke, where Boyd took a 2017-18 roster with just one senior, one healthy junior and one healthy sophomore and tied the school record with 20 wins. This season, the Pride are still young — one senior, one junior — but have won four of five games, are 12-6 overall and are in fourth place in the 13-team Heart of America Athletic Conference standings.

“I would like to think we’re on the upslope in a positive way,” Boyd said. “It’s a long season and with so many freshmen and sophomores, they don’t know. They don’t know how long the season is. … If I can just get them to kind of buy into what the end result is and continue with the process, I would like to think we’re on the right track.”

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