Daily Journal Staff Report
Following the conclusion of the 2021 women’s basketball season, Kankakee Community College will have a new head basketball coach for the first time in over two decades.
KCC announced that Casey Meister will replace longtime Cavalier head coach Donnie Denson starting next season, as well as serving as assistant athletic director
“I’m not going to lie, I cried,” Meister said. “It’ was just a lot of weight lifted off my shoulders and it shows how much I wanted this position and how passionate I am to take on this new role at full force … so I’m excited and ready to go.”
She will take over for Denson who is currently in his 21st season as head coach for the Lady Cavaliers. Denson is a member of the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, and recently earned his 500th victory in late January. He will retire from KCC on Sept. 30.
“I’ve been coaching under Denson for seven years now and obviously he’s got all the accolades and built this program up,” Meister said. “The program has a great tradition and history and he has a set mission and vision which I would like to continue. Obviously, I will plan to be putting in a few twists.”
Meister’s promotion will help land her her first head coaching job at the collegiate level. Along with spending the last seven seasons an an assistant coach for KCC, Meister had previous experience working with Tri-Point High School, splitting time as both as an assistant basketball coach (2008-2011) and as the head coach (2011-2014) for the Chargers.
Being that Meister doesn’t have a plethora of years coaching at the top, the former KCC Cavalier player (2004-2006) plans to make up for it with her experience as a former player. She has an array of player experience given that Meister had played at multiple levels, including NCAA Division I.
“I think there are a lot of coaches that are out there, but they haven’t been through it,” Meister said. “They haven’t played the sport so I really think that’s going to be something that helps me with my vision for the program.”
Meister played for Denson at KCC from 2004-2006 where she went on to be selected for the All-Region team (2005, 2006) and MVP of the NCJAA Division II Region IV Tournament in 2006. She was also named an NCJAA All-American in back-to-back years before she went on to transfer to Chicago State, an NCAA Division I women’s basketball program, on a scholarship for her junior season. Following that, she returned back to the Kankakee area where she played her final season at Olivet Nazarene University in 2008.
Most recently Meister was inducted into the Region IV Hall of Fame in 2019.