The University of South Dakota athletic department introduced head women’s basketball coach Kayla Karius Monday afternoon. Karius returns to South Dakota after previously serving as an assistant coach with the Coyotes from 2016-18.
University of South Dakota Director of Athletics David Herbster and President Sheila Gestring provided a speech before Karius’ turn at the podium.
“We were focused on finding someone who was the right fit, who understood our culture and someone who really wanted to be here in Vermillion,” said Herbster. “Not only does Kayla have the ability to teach the x’s and o’s, she embodies developing strong leaders. She understands the culture of winning in the classroom, on the court, in the community and understands the importance of family.”
“This program has been on such an incredible trajectory,” said Gestring. “I think back to just a little over a decade ago, we were the runner-up in the Division II National Championship game. And now here we are – we’ve won the WNIT, we’ve made the NCAA Tournament four-straight years and most recently the Sweet 16 run. This program is highly attractive, which provided us with countless names to look at and incredible talent in our pool.
“Without a doubt, Kayla Karius, certainly rose to the top and really impressed me. She is that family person. She knows character, she knows community, she knows x’s and o’s and she knows the kind of staff she wants to bring in to continue that culture.”
Karius makes a return to Vermillion after spending two seasons on Dawn Plituzweit’s coaching staff. She expressed her excitement to return to campus.
“I am so fired up to be back in Vermillion and once again be a part of the amazing Coyote family,” said Karius. “This was a no brainer for us to return to Vermillion and make this our new home. This community is truly one of a kind.”
Karius thanked her family (her “why”) and her mentors. She shared how she has taken small pieces from each of her mentors over the years to become who she is today. Karius met the team as the head coach of the Coyotes for the first time on Sunday evening, greeted by each player with hugs. She had played a role in the recruiting process of nearly every player in the room.
“I am so excited to work with a group that has tasted a lot of success, yet is still so hungry and driven for more,” Karius expressed. “I cannot wait for all the fun we are going to have together and I cannot wait to get to work.”
Karius’ speech also included nods to the history of Coyote women’s basketball, the alumni and the first 10 coaches in the program’s history. She expressed gratitude to the fans with a nod to the more than 6,500 Coyote fans that made the trek to Wichita a few weeks ago for the first Sweet 16 in program history.
“To the fans – thank you for your pride and your devotion to the Yotes,” said Karius. “You are what makes USD so special, and what makes playing in the Sanford Coyote Sports Center so incredible and difficult for opponents. We need you to keep that up.
“I promise you that this will be a program you will remain proud of. We will have a great brand of basketball and you will be even prouder of the great women that are a part of this program and the leadership that they will provide within the community.”