Chartiers Valley grad Alexa Golden making transition from college basketball player to coach
After her freshman season with the Kent State women’s basketball team, Alexa Golden lost some of her passion for the game. The Golden Flash won six games overall and only three in the Mid-American Conference.
A new coaching staff, headed by Todd Starkey, came in the next season, and Golden, a Chartiers Valley grad, suddenly had renewed vigor for basketball. The Golden Flash jumped to 19 wins and a MAC East title in Starkey’s first season, and this winter, Golden wrapped up her playing career by helping the team to 20 wins, including a victory over Green Bay in the WNIT — the program’s first postseason win in two decades.
But Golden isn’t finished helping the Golden Flash grow. This week, she took her first steps down the path to coaching when she began duties as a graduate assistant on Starkey’s staff.
When Starkey first brought up the subject of being a GA, Golden thought he was joking. When he mentioned it again, she knew he was serious.
“Ever since I was younger, probably as young as 12, I always thought of coaching as a back-burner thing,” Golden said. “Like every 12-year-old, I wanted to play basketball as long as I could. But in the last year or so, I realized I wasn’t going to play overseas.
“I want to help other student-athletes, and I think coaching is a great profession to get into if you want to help other student-athletes.”
Starkey said he gave Golden “homework” when they began formal discussions about the GA position. He had her interview the other members of his staff — all of whom had gone the GA route — then report on her findings.
Golden aced her assignment. Probably not surprising for someone who earned a master’s degree in four years.
She finished her undergrad degree in criminal justice in two-and-a-half years then realized she wanted to do something with college athletics. So she took the next year-and-a-half to earn her master’s in sports and rec management — all while handling the rigors of a Division-I sport.
Golden started 107 of 124 games in which she appeared over her four seasons with Kent State. She averaged 5.6 points and 4.5 rebounds, and her 91 steals this past season tied for fifth most in a season in program history and helped her earn MAC all-defensive honors.
Starkey expressed no reservations about Golden’s ability to coach, even if it means instructing women who were her teammates just a few months ago.
“Her growth as a leader on our team was significant,” Starkey said. “She always knew where to be on the court. She was always letting everybody know where they needed to be, knew everybody’s positions and responsibilities.
“She cared more about winning than being popular. It’s a maturity a lot of college kids don’t have.”
Unlike so many offseasons in her past, Golden will not be training. She will be in her office at Kent State getting used to being on the other side of the clipboard. The players returned for offseason workouts June 10, so Golden is prepared to dive in.
And she will expect her players to have the same type of fire she had during her playing days.
“I will definitely want hard-working players and players who have a lot of passion,” she said. “Passion is the main thing. If you don’t love the game, it’s going to be pretty evident.
“Passionate players are able to get a lot more accomplished than players who aren’t.”
Chuck Curti is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .