Small College Sports

Steve Krafcisin finds joy in unexpected place

Ogden column: Former Hawkeye standout has won 301 games at DMACC women's basketball coach

Former Iowa basketball player Steve Krafcisin is now the DMACC women's basketball coach. He won his 300th game at the Boone school recently. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Former Iowa basketball player Steve Krafcisin is now the DMACC women's basketball coach. He won his 300th game at the Boone school recently. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
/

Happiness, it turns out, really can be found in unexpected places.

Just ask Steve Krafcisin.

The former University of Iowa men’s basketball standout found it in Iowa City in the 1980s, when he left North Carolina to join the Hawkeyes.

He found it in Dubuque a few years later, and in Ames in the late ’80s and early ’90s.

He found happiness in Mason City in the late ’90s and, since 2004, has found it in Boone, coaching the DMACC women’s basketball team.

He never dreamed this route, or this level of professional — and personal — satisfaction.

“I didn’t want to be a coach,” the 60-year-old Krafcisin said Sunday, a week after winning his 300th game as the Bears’ coach. “I didn’t want to be one of those guys who couldn’t play anymore so he might as well coach.”

Krafcisin figured he’d work in the recreation field, using the degree he earned at Iowa after helping the Hawkeyes to the 1980 Final Four. But in 1984, while using that degree in Dyersville, an assistant coaching job opened up at Loras College and he inquired.

He took a $9,000-a-year pay cut to join the Duhawks’ staff.

“It’s the greatest decision I made,” he said.

After four years in Dubuque, he joined Johnny Orr’s staff at Iowa State for eight seasons. He then headed to North Dakota for a few years before returning to Ames to join Tim Floyd’s staff.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

That’s when Krafcisin’s life, and career, took a rather unusual turn. He was on a trajectory to becoming a Division I men’s basketball head coach when his wife, Joanne, gave birth to their first son on Dec. 31, 1996.

He heard regrets from colleagues who missed watching their children grow and made a life-changing decision.

“I didn’t want that,” he said.

He had several opportunities to “move up” and even Floyd thought Krafcisin was nuts for not pursing them.

“He just didn’t understand,” Krafcisin said.

Krafcisin chose personal happiness and found professional bliss.

He took the men’s coaching job at NIACC, one he held for seven seasons. He found his happy place in junior college basketball.

“It was perfect,” he said. “It was at a perfect time for me.”

Then another “perfect” opportunity turned up at NIACC, a better paying gig where he also could work as the school’s student activities council coordinator.

“I’ve been able to coach, I’ve been able to affect young people’s lives,” Krafcisin said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

He said basketball is basketball, but admitted adjusting to coaching women was a bit tricky at first. He had a lot to learn, like coaching women was more about teaching and less about the emotions.

“I really like the relationships,” he said. “I love the interaction. ... Once the girls believe in you, they’ll do anything for you. They’ve taught me as much as I’ve taught them.”

No regrets?

“I never wavered,” he said.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Thank you for signing up for our e-newsletter!

You should start receiving the e-newsletters within a couple days.

He discovered coaching is a great career, but being a parent was real happiness. He and Joanne have three adult children.

“This is the place, I think, I’m supposed to be,” he said.

And after 300 victories — he’s now 301-130 in his 14th season — he couldn’t be happier.

“I’m ecstatic,” he said, “and very humbled.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8696; jr.ogden@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

CONTINUE READING

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.