Geary earning respect

RCHS grad making a name for herself as assistant at UDM

REED CITY — Emily Samuelson made quite a name for herself as a basketball player at Reed City as well as Western Michigan University and Northern Michigan University during her college years. Now she’s making a name for herself in the coaching ranks under her married name of Emily Geary. Geary graduated from Reed City High School with 1,514 points during her basketball years and was a Class B first team all-state selection in 2000 and second team in 1999. The end of the college basketball season marked Geary’s fifth with the University of Detroit-Mercy in Division I. Detroit athletic department officials credit Geary with helping to build a team that was in last place and has become a championship contender. The Titans won the Women’s Basketball Invitational to end the regular season in Geary’s fifth season with the program. In Geary’s years at Detroit, the team has an 83-78 record. Prior to her arrival, Detroit had back-to-back last place losses in its league and had just 11-win totals 2006-08. Detroit coach Autumn Rademacher is at her alma mater but had previously been assistant at Western Michigan and recruited Geary to that school as a player. She hired Geary when she got the Detroit job. “She just asked me to come along when she got this job,” Geary said. “I coached two years at Franklin College, a Division III school south of Indianapolis. Prior to that, I played professionally overseas in Germany for two years.” Detroit has put together three winning seasons in the last four years after having just one in its previous seven. The Titans compete in the Horizon League. While Geary has been full-time assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, Detroit has enjoyed two 20-win campaigns, five-straight years with a conference tournament victory and a trip to the WNIT in 2012, which was the first postseason action for UDM since Detroit went to its lone NCAA Tournament appearance in 1997. “I believe in the last few years, we’ve been able to bring in real high-character kids that are dedicated players and students in the classroom and kids that want to be in the gym all the time,” she said. “I think it’s paying off.” Her recruiting efforts have focused mainly on the Midwest and Canada, Geary noted. The WBI Championship, a 16-team event, marks the first postseason tournament title for Detroit since 1981. Detroit had a 21-13 record for its second-straight winning season and the first time it has had back-to-back winning seasons since 2001 (17-12) and 2002 (16-14). “Winning that championship on your home court was a thrill for me and the team,” she said. “To win your last game isn’t a chance many teams have around the country.” Geary and the coaches are already focusing on next season. “We have three freshmen coming that will be competitive in trying to earn starting spots,” Geary said. “I’m looking forward to the future. I think we’ll be building our team for next season. A lot of teams in our conference will be losing some players.” Rademacher has valued Geary’s presence on her staff. “She was someone I respected as a play at Western,” Rademacher said. “To me, she was wise beyond her years, one of those players more mature than others. When she transferred to Northern and played her final collegiate years there, she always stayed in touch with me. For her to have that kind of commitment tot soon as I got the job (at Detroit) I knew she had the type of loyalty I needed. “No. 1, she is in tune with not only the basketball staff but with the player’ academics and future. She’s on them about their school. She has a caring side of her, a personal side, kind of like a counselor-coach. She does everything around our office whether it be travel or paperwork. Sometimes I look around and ‘say what do I do? Coach Emily does all of it.’” Geary played under Brian Koopman at Reed City. “After my four years of playing college ball, I played overseas but each of my two seasons, I ended my career with torn ACLs in both of my knees,” she said. “I knew I wanted to give coaching a try. I had to decide if I wanted to keep playing. I would have continued to play three or four years if I didn’t get injured. I decided to not risk it and go into coaching.” Geary has played the sport since she was five years old and enjoys being able to call it her profession. “I can never (imagine) my life without it,” Geary said. “I just can’t.” It’s her ultimate goal to be a head coach on the Division I level. “I think right now (Division I) is where I’d like to stay,” she said. “I can also see myself coaching at the Division II level. I’ve played and I’ve coached and have been around every level. I was at Western Michigan two years and at Northern two years. Playing and coaching at every level...There are some differences with what you have to do administratively. At the end of the day, basketball is basketball. There’s not a lot of difference.”