Women’s basketball Coach Nancy Winstel’s office is small, but somehow spacious. She makes the most of the room that the university gave her.
It’s what she’s been doing her whole life. She is at her best when she gives what she can and makes the most of her opportunities.
The Campbell County native sat down with The Northerner for an interview last week and she had some very pointed things to say. She wants people to know about her greatest achievement: creating teamwork.
“You’re not going to see prima donnas on the floor who don’t pass the ball,” she said. “The thing I like most about our team is the chemistry we have. Every player wants to be here.”
An important aspect of a great team is to have good chemistry. A rare commodity in sports today is having players that get along and have friendships away from the court.
Having players that get along and have friendships away from the playing surface is a rare commodity in sports today. Winstel has found that out. Although, she is not too shy to give her players the tough love they need to be aggressive and motivated.
“I always tell my players that just because we had a (disagreement) in the locker room, doesn’t mean that I don’t care about you.”
A want of a player is the chance to play for a nice, caring coach. However, the thing that they want above everything else is to win and be successful.
“I tell my players, most of who are from the Greater Cincinnati area, that playing college basketball is special. Getting to play in your own backyard is extra special.”
Coach Winstel was born in northern Kentucky and raised in both Newport, KY and Fort Thomas, KY. Aside from a three-year coaching stint at Midway College, she has spent her entire life in Northern Kentucky. She’s not about to leave, either.
“I’ve had opportunities to leave and I have chosen not to. This is my home. To have the opportunity to coach at a college that you went to is very special,” Winstel said.
NKU has a special place in Winstel’s heart. She chose to attend college at NKU, and it came with a price. She feels as if she owes the university her service for being the school that she could afford to attend and was close to home.
“If it wasn’t for NKU, I probably would have never gone to college,” she said. “If I was going to college, I was going to have to pay for it myself. When I got out of high school, NKU was just beginning.”
Winstel decided to enroll as a part time student to get a feel for things. She knew NKU was where she would be for a very long time.
After graduating with a degree in physical education from NKU, Winstel earned her master’s degree from Indiana University. Her head coaching career began at Midway College before she returned to coach at NKU in 1981.
“There are days when I drive in to work and I scan the (area) and I think to myself, ‘Wow.’ I work here. I do this. I feel very blessed to do what I do, where I want to do it,” Winstel said.
NKU means a lot to Winstel. She has been at the university for 29 years. She has earned the right to speak her mind about a multitude of subjects, including school spirit.
“To me, I don’t understand why NKU’s students’ number one school is (University of Kentucky). Their number one team should be Northern Kentucky. Is it because we’re Division II? That’s where they go to school, you know? I like UK, but I don’t bleed blue. I bleed black and gold.”
Winstel is very adamant when talking about her beloved university. It doesn’t matter to her that the teams are Division II.
“I think that what a lot of people don’t realize is that there are Division II schools that could beat a lot of Division I schools.”
Winstel also challenges the student body to come watch the team as they march through the season.
“If you love the game, if you’re from Kentucky and you truly love the game of basketball, and you come to one of our games, and you don’t get excited, then you don’t truly love the game,” Winstel said.
“It’s not just the women either. Come and watch the men. You’ll get excited.”
It’s obvious that Winstel’s ability to coach women’s basketball at NKU has brought her to this point.
She won’t stop until the entire university is united as one team.