The Otterbein women's basketball team, coached by Diana Noles, finished their 2021-22 campaign with a record of 18-7 overall and a 12-5 record in the Ohio Athletic Conference. Noles, a 2004 Otterbein graduate, has now completed her third season as the head coach of the team.
"Our goal always is to go win the conference; I think that is the biggest thing the players talk about every year, and at some point, you know, you realize the numbers are against you, you're not gonna win it, so we kind of adjusted to that and made sure we finished the season strong," Noles said.
"My first year 2019-2020, we had some major injuries to our top players; we weren't very deep," said Noles. "We had such a great start, and then it became such a huge challenge year one." Because of the injuries, Noles's inaugural season finished 12-14 overall, 7-11 in the OAC.
Playing a limited season 2020-2021 due to COVID-19, the Cardinals finished with a winning record of 8-5 and an impressive at-home record of 5-2 at the Rike Center. "We had a lot of young kids, freshmen playing last year, no parents and no crowd. It had been a very interesting two years up to that point," said Noles.
In the off-season, Noles and her staff take pride in recruiting and watching players grow on and off the court. "I was Connie's assistant for seven years before taking over as head coach, so I recruited most of these kids and saw most of them play in high school. One of the greatest advantages I had was the kids were already here. The kids embraced the change and were comfortable with me," said Noles.
Senior forward Kathleen DeCarlo praises Noles. "I love her; she's a great person, a great role model. She's like my second mom; I feel like I can go to her with anything. She's not only my coach but she's also been a mentor for sure." said DeCarlo.
DeCarlo recalls the Feb. 9 game versus John Carroll University as her highlight of the year. Because of injuries, this was DeCarlo's first time playing in the facility as a college student-athlete. John Carroll's gym, the Tony DeCarlo Varsity Center, is named after DeCarlo's grandfather. "That was one of the most exciting, most emotional games I think I have ever played. My family was there, and the last time I played there, I was probably in middle school. I have been overcoming these injuries, and I finally got to play there," said DeCarlo.
The Cardinals trailed late versus the eighth-ranked team in the nation, but pulled off an upset over John Carroll, 57-52. DeCarlo played 28 minutes, contributing six points, seven rebounds and a steal to help lift the Cardinals to victory. "It was so exciting not only for myself but my team and my family," said DeCarlo.