NEW LONDON — The New London girls basketball team has seen its fair share of coaches over the last five years, but the Tigers may have found their answer with former Iowa Wesleyan guard Aimee Iverson.
When the Tiger girls hit the floor on Friday in their home opener against Winfield-Mt. Union, Iverson moved into the head coaching position over the summer, replacing Superintendent Chad Wahls, who had coached the Tigers in each of the last two seasons.
Iverson played for IW in 2015-16, transferring in after playing two years at Parkland Community College and one at Missouri Baptist University. Iverson played under former head coach Steve Williamson, and became a Student Assistant the next year. That would be the first step in eventually becoming a head coach.
“I needed an internship, and I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to stay around basketball,” Iverson said. “I just wanted to be around the game. It’s been part of my whole life.”
While IW went through changes at the head coaching position, Iverson stayed on. After Williamson left to coach at William Penn University, Iverson got an Assistant Coach job under Jack Bruns, and stayed on as an Assistant for Temaine Wright, who took over two years later.
Meanwhile, just nine miles down the highway, New London was experiencing it’s own changes. Longtime Tiger coach Duane Blint stopped coaching basketball after the 2016-17 season. David Streeter coached for one year and Wahls took over for the last two as the school looked for a more long-term replacement.
When New London Athletic Director Ben Fry reached out to Iverson about the job this summer, she was all for it.
“Ben actually reached out to me on Facebook and was like, ‘I heard you might be interested,’” Iverson said. “I was like, ‘Why not?’”
Iverson will take over for a team that went 5-17 last season and 4-12 in the Southeast Iowa Super Conference South Division.
Though the Tigers have been a perennial power on the volleyball court and on the softball field, the basketball program has had trouble with numbers, even having just seven players in 2018-19, which forced them to play some games short-handed.
New London will return two of its top four leading scorers, senior Marah Hartrick (9.8 PPG) and junior Ashlyn McSorley (5.3 PPG). The Tigers also will bring in some new talent, including sophomore volleyball star Keaura Williams, who will be one of the tallest players in the conference, at 5-foot 11-inches.
“I’ll look to use her a lot,” said Iverson. “I’m not sure how the rest of the conference looks, but I’m sure there aren’t a lot of 5’11 girls.”
Iverson says the middle school team is seeing good numbers, and hopes the high school team can start to spark interest in the near future.
“I’ve been told multiple times that it’s a volleyball school,” Iverson said. “I’m trying to change that culture too. It can be a volleyball and a basketball school.”
And Iverson won’t be embarking in this journey alone. Former Mt. Pleasant star Maddie Williamson, the daughter of Iverson’s head coach at Iowa Wesleyan, will be Iverson’s assistant coach. The 2019 Mt. Pleasant graduate has stopped playing college basketball after one year at IW, and will focus on coaching with Iverson at New London. Both Iverson and M. Williamson are still enrolled as students at the college.
“She obviously comes from a great basketball family,” said Iverson. “She’s a great player, and she knows a lot about the game.”
On Friday night in New London, Iverson will make her coaching debut against the longest tenured basketball coach in Henry County. Winfield-Mt. Union head coach Mitch Wachs will be coaching his 658th game while Iverson coaches her first.
While coaching at New London, Iverson will be working toward getting a teaching degree from IW. She has one-and-a-half more years of school, and plans on eventually teaching physical education while continuing to coach.