INDIANOLA, Iowa -- "Play hard! Have fun!" It's no wonder the Simpson women's basketball program has piled on 600 wins over the last 33 years with that mantra being a consistent message in team huddles and meetings from head coach Brian Niemuth.
Members of the women's basketball team donned shirts with the short saying after Niemuth recorded his 600th career victory as head coach of the Storm on Saturday, Dec. 21. Simpson claimed a 76-69 triumph in comeback fashion over Millikin in the Millikin Holiday Classic title bout to hand Niemuth another milestone notch in his coaching belt.
Niemuth is currently ninth in career wins for active head coaches and 20th all-time in career coaching victories at the NCAA Division III level. He became the second active coach during the 2019-20 campaign in the division to hit the 600-win plateau, joining Moravian's Mary Beth Spirk.
Since taking over the reign of the program in 1987, Niemuth has guided Simpson to 11 conference titles, appeared in 10 NCAA Tournaments, won Conference Coach of the Year honors on six occasions and received District Coach of the Year honors three times.
From 2004 to 2013, Niemuth's teams won 20-or-more games in nine seasons and averaged 23.6 triumphs during that span. His teams won seven conference titles and six conference tournament crowns during those years. To highlight the successes of those teams, the Storm reached the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 on three occasions, with back-to-back performances from 2006-08.
Simpson is getting back to the level of those teams after obtaining its first 20-win season since 2012-13 with a 20-7 mark last year. The team captured an opening round win in the American Rivers Conference Tournanament to cap off its third-place finish in the regular season standings.
The Storm are currently 7-3 and 1-2 in A-R-C play and continue competition on Sunday, Dec. 29 with an 11 a.m. (CT) contest against New Paltz to start the Music City Classic in Nashville, Tenn.
Here is what several members of the women's basketball team had to say about Niemuth and what he's meant to each of them during their time with Simpson:
Moran Lonning | Assistant Coach
"As a player at Luther, I remember walking into Cowles Fieldhouse and feeling intimidated by the countless women's basketball banners. Coach Niemuth created this dynasty. 600 wins all at SImpson College is very special, but what I find even more special is the way he loves and cares for every single player that he has coached. He tells his current players stories of past alumni and gets choked up; each one holds a special place in his heart and him in theirs. He will tell you it's fun cutting down championship nets, but what brings him the most joy is knowing his players have created lifelong friendships through their time as SImpson women's basketball players."
Cassie Chubb | Senior from Des Moines, Iowa
"I'm very blessed to be playing under a coach that knows so much about not only basketball, but life. He makes me want to be a better person on and off the court. I've learned so much about leadership and how to work as a team. He has such a good heart and he has impacted so many players during his coaching, it's insane!"
Claire Johnson | Senior from Dakota Dunes, S.D.
"I'm honored to play for Coach Niemuth, he makes you believe and have confidence in yourself. He leads with his heart and positivity. It's never about one person, it's about the team and doing it together. He makes it clear that everyone has a purpose and their role matters. He also reminds us to have fun and is quick with his sense of humor."
Jenna Taylor | Senior from Creston, Iowa
"Coach Niemuth was one of the primary factors I wanted to play for Simpson. His successes on the court are countless, but it is clear he is even a better person than a coach. I feel incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to grow as a player and person under him over the last four years, and we're lucky to be involved in a small part of this awesome accomplishment."
Cameron Kincaid | Junior from Olathe, Kan.
"It's an honor as a player to play for Coach Niemuth who has the success that he has had. His composure and leadership during tight games is an essential part of our team's success. It is nice to know as a player that your coach has confidence in you, and Coach Niemuth is not shy to tell us he does. He inspires me to play better for my team on the court and be a better person in the world off of it."