Minnesota Women’s Basketball Coach Dawn Plitzuweit announced the completion of her first staff as head coach of the Golden Gophers on Monday.
Plitzuweit announced the elevation of Rachel Banham and Tyler VanWinkle to Assistant Coaches along with a role change for Jan Whitbeck who is now the Director of Strategic Operations. Plitzuweit’s staff also added Adam Marso as the University of Minnesota’s Director of Basketball Operations, Meghan Bielich as the Director of Creative Content along with Brooke Olson as the team’s Graduate Manager and Stevan Yan as the team’s intern for the upcoming season.
“We are extremely excited to announce the completion of our staff for the upcoming season,” Plitzuweit said. “The adjustment in NCAA rules now permits us to have six coaches on the court in practices and in games. We are fortunate to have Rachel Banham and Tyler VanWinkle expanding their roles within our program and now also assisting us in these new coaching positions.”
“In terms of our support staff, we have realigned a few things and we believe that these adjustments fit our personnel well and help our program continue to move forward in many new ways, Plitzuweit said. “In our Director of Basketball Operations role, we have added Adam Marso. Adam is a detail oriented individual with a great deal of experience in this facet and he is also a Minnesota Alum. We are excited to bring him back home! Jan Whitbeck has an updated role for our program now as the Director of Strategic Operations,” Plitzuweit said. “This new role allows us to use her amazing experiences and skill sets to continue moving Gopher Women’s Basketball forward in brand new ways.”
“We also strongly believed that we needed someone to assist our program with creative content production, not only in recruiting, but also in other areas as well,” Plitzuweit said. “After working with Meghan last year, we knew that she would be a great fit for us in this new position. Finally, we have also added two young stars, Brooke Olson as our Graduate Manager and Steven Yan as our Intern for the upcoming year. We are excited for our staff to work together with each other, our players and all of Minnesota!”
Banham, who will continue to fulfill the role of Director of Quality Control along with being an assistant coach, rejoined the program back in September of 2022 after playing for the Maroon and Gold from 2011-16. She scored 3,093 points, leaving the college game as the No. 1 scorer in Big Ten history and sixth in NCAA history. She was the 2016 Big Ten Player of the Year and made 354 threes during her career, a program record. After her stellar college career Banham was selected fourth overall by the Connecticut Sun in the 2016 WNBA Draft and was traded to the Minnesota Lynx in 2020. Banham is currently in the midst of her eighth season in the WNBA and will continue her playing career in professional basketball alongside her role with the University of Minnesota.
A native of New Paris, Ohio, VanWinkle joined the Golden Gophers officially in April after spending last season in West Virginia with Plitzuweit. Along with his role as Assistant Coach VanWinkle will continue to serve as the team’s Director of Video Services. Prior to his season in Morgantown VanWinkle spent the previous two seasons as a graduate assistant at Illinois State and was a student manager with the Redbirds from 2018-20.
Marso joins Minnesota as the team’s Director of Operations after spending the past two seasons as an assistant coach at the University of North Dakota after spending the previous two seasons as the Fighting Hawks Director of Basketball Operations. While working as an assistant coach the past two seasons the Fighting Hawks accrued an overall record of 34-28 and Marso helped coach two First Team All-Summit League student-athletes and two All-Defensive Team members. Prior to North Dakota he spent time at Henderson State as an assistant coach, Arkansas State as the team’s Director of Operations and at Minnesota as the Special Assistant to the head coach.
Bielich, the team’s Director of Creative Content, comes to Minnesota after four years at the University of West Virginia where she served as the Director of Basketball Operations and Assistant to the Head Coach. She has had a pair of stints at the University of Pittsburgh as Director of Video and Creative Content and Director of Women’s Basketball Operations. Meghan has also spent time at Texas Tech and Akron. A native of Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, she earned her bachelor’s degree from Clarion University before graduating with a master’s from California University of Pennsylvania.
Transitioning to the role of Director of Strategic Operations, Whitbeck now enters her second season at the University of Minnesota. Prior to Minnesota Whitbeck most recently worked with WeCOACH as the Senior Director of Events and Branding while also serving as the Interim CEO from December of 2021 to March of 2022. Prior to her work with WeCOACH Whitbeck served as the Director of Events with the University of Minnesota Alumni Association from 2017-2021. Whitbeck completed her Master of Arts in Physical Education from the University of Northern Colorado with a concentration in Sport Administration while also completing a Bachelor of Arts in Kinesiology from Western State Colorado University.
Minnesota’s Graduate Manager for the upcoming season is Brooke Olson, who was a standout at the University of Minnesota – Duluth from 2018-23. In Duluth Olson was one of the best players in Duluth’s history, amassing 2530 points in 143 games played in five seasons. She started 110 games and was the captain and leading scorer on the Bulldogs 2022-23 team that reached the NCAA Division II National Championship game along with winning a conference title. She was the 2022-23 WBCA Division II WBCA Player of the Year and was a Division II Honda Athlete of the Year Finalist. Olson graduated from the University of Minnesota – Duluth in May of 2022 with a degree in Exercise Science.
(info courtesy of Gopher Sports)