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Steding plucked for job in WNBA

Warner Pacific coach will be assistant for new team in Atlanta
by: Courtesy of Scott Thompson, Katy Steding coached Warner Pacific for seven seasons before resigning last week to take a job with the WNBA expansion Atlanta Dream.

The opportunity - a Dream job, really - came out of nowhere.

And it'll be quite a change from coaching women's basketball at Warner Pacific College of the NAIA Division II level.

Katy Steding is looking forward to working with pros as an assistant coach with the WNBA expansion Atlanta Dream.

Her last day at Warner Pacific was Monday. Steding is headed to the women's Final Four and will join Atlanta's staff Thursday.

'It's definitely a different mentality,' Steding, 40, says of the WNBA. 'This is somebody's livelihood. It's different in how athletes think about it.

'At the same time, you're dealing with people very passionate about their jobs. It's a job, but it's still a game, and they love it. The great teams have great athletes who love the game and are able to be sacrificial when the need arises. That's the spirit you're working toward.'

Steding coached at Warner Pacific the past seven years. She twice led the Knights to the NAIA Division II tournament. Her 2007-08 team fell to 6-23, due mostly to injuries - the Knights' best player, Jacque Barton, missed nearly half the season with a knee injury.

Steding retired as a player in 2001 after a career that included stints with the now-defunct Portland Power and WNBA's Seattle and Sacramento.

A former Lake Oswego High star, a national champion at Stanford and a 1996 Olympian, Steding recently got a call out of the blue from Dream coach Marynell Meadors, asking if Steding would come and be an assistant.

Meadors coached the WNBA Charlotte Sting from 1997 to 1999. She served as assistant with the Washington Mystics the past two seasons. She previously coached at Tennessee Tech and Florida State, recording more than 500 wins.

'I've never met her before,' Steding says, 'but it's a great opportunity for me to learn from somebody with a lot of experience, a lot of college wins and a lot of time in the pros.'

Meadors, also the general manager, says: 'For us to have a former WNBA player and former Olympian (on staff), I think it's just awesome. It's instant credibility for our team.'

Steding's duties will include player development, scouting and game preparation. It's a full-time, year-round job. It'll be different because she won't be calling the shots and she goes in as the new kid on the block alongside experienced WNBA coaches in Meadors and Fred Williams.

The Dream already have some players after the WNBA expansion draft, and they will pick eighth in the college draft. Training camp opens April 20; the Dream will open the season May 23.

'I think we have seven players over 6-3. We've got to be the largest team in the league,' Steding says.

Leaving Warner Pacific is bittersweet for Steding. The college gave her the first 'real job' after playing. She also leaves a job as director of marketing and college relations at the school.

'It was absolutely comfortable, like my second home,' she says.

Athletic Director Bart Valentine now will set out to hire her replacement.

Steding says she wants to be a college head coach again.

'I don't see this as a permanent move,' she says, 'but it's a good move at this time.'

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