Bronco Nation Welcomes Women's Basketball Coach Shane Clipfell
KALAMAZOO, Mich.- Over 150 guests, including his former program, welcomed Western Michigan head women's basketball coach Shane Clipfell to Western Michigan University at a reception Wednesday, April 18.
Clipfell was formerly announced as the sixth women's basketball coach in Western Michigan history Friday, April, 13. Wednesday, the University ushered in the new era with a celebration at the W Club room at the Seelye Center.
WMU Athletic Director Kathy Beauregard introduced Coach Clipfell, as supporters of the program, family and friends, former players, athletic staff and the current Bronco team gathered to mark the beginning of Clipfell's tenure at Western Michigan.
Clipfell's wife, Connie and daughter, Lauren were also in attendance, while son John was unable to attend, traveling overseas.
Emotions were high, as Clipfell's former team, Michigan State, and long-time friend and colleague, MSU head coach Suzy Merchant made a surprise visit to Kalamazoo for the occasion. Clipfell and Merchant coached alongside one another for the past 14 years at Eastern Michigan and Michigan State. In an act of true commradary, the Spartan team showed their support by singing the Bronco fight song in honor of Clipfell.
Excerpts from the evening:
WMU Athletic Director Kathy Beauregard:
"Good afternoon and welcome to Western Michigan University. This has been an extremely special event for us. I have to tell you that I have been around athletics at this great university for over 30 years and I would just say this, I think this is probably one of the most special events that we've ever had.
Our world is so crazy that sometimes we get caught up in winning at all costs, and we lose sight of caring about people and really treating others the way they should be treated. I don't know that we have ever announced a new head coach and had the university that we are stealing him from actually come to the ceremony.
A lot is to be said about the leadership of Suzy Merchant and the partnership she has had over the last 14 years working with our new head coach Shane Clipfell.
There was no doubt that after we talked to our student-athletes about the interaction they had, and as you can see with the relationship with Michigan State's team, that Shane was the perfect fit to be a part of our Bronco family. So it is a true honor for us."
Michigan State Head Coach Suzy Merchant:
"When I first got the call that Western Michigan was open I think my stomach did a flip for two reasons, one because Western would be crazy not to hire Shane, and the other one I did one for myself.
I asked one of our players, Kiana, 'Do you remember when you were four years old?' ... When you were four that is when Shane and I started working together.
I have a four-year old and one-year old and both my kids call them Uncle Shane and Aunt Connie. I can assure the Western Michigan fan base that this is not a day about Michigan State or myself, this is a day for all of you. I guarantee you there is not a better man, a better person, for this program.
He will take it to a place where it used to be and take it even further. He is a tremendous basketball coach, a tremendous family man and a great communicator.
I don't know how the kids here feel about basketball but I guarantee one thing, you will love this game again if you don't and if you do he will build upon that. You're going to have passion in your heart; you're going to love to come to practice and that is part of what he does. He is going to challenge you too, I promise you there is not a better person to stand here.
This is Shane Clipfell's dream job to be here at Western Michigan where he grew up."
Western Michigan Head Coach Shane Clipfell:
"Thank you, and thank you Suzy. I felt like I was ready today and then when I turned around and saw my former team walk in I obviously kind of lost it. I was not expecting that. In hindsight, I should have expected this because this is not the first time Suzy has done this for me, in happy situations and sad situations. We have managed at each other's side for so long, that it is a little bit scary.
Many of you mean so much to me I'll never be able to thank properly everyone that is sitting in this room that has guided me. I should talk first and foremost about this wonderful University for giving me the opportunity I have been entrusted with to take over this basketball program - President Dunn, Kathy Beauregard and Dave Corstange, in particular, who I dealt with most throughout the process. Thank you so much for putting your trust in me and I promise you I won't let you down.
My wife, Connie, without her and our two children, Lauren and John, I wouldn't be standing here today for this opportunity. Thank you for your support through the years and everything you have done.
Again so many people sitting out there that I wish I could say and call each of you out, family, friends, mentors, kids that have played at different spots throughout the years, thank you so much for being here.
I don't take this lightly, I don't take this privilege that I have been given lightly, I was hired to come in here and do this job and that is what we are going to do.
We are going to put the fight back in the Broncos here at Western Michigan. We will not let you down, I promise you. This is why I wanted to come home; this is exactly one of the many reasons why I wanted to come home. Thank you primarily to Kathy for giving my family and I this opportunity and thank you Broncos, I'm telling you we will be back to the top in a hurry. We will be back in a hurry."