Longtime CSU assistant Jerro departs for Wisconsin

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At roughly 2:45 PM on March 12th, Chris Kielsmeier sat at a press conference in a makeshift media room at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis. His Cleveland State team had just been thumped by Green Bay in the Horizon League championship game, and the assembled reporters had finally run out of ways to make him restate the same thoughts about how badly the Vikings had been outplayed.

The moderator dutifully jumped in and started to summarize CSU’s otherwise-successful season, with the intent of tying a bow on the 11-minute Q-and-A, and getting Kielsmeier – who surely would have rather been doing just about anything else in that moment – off the stage.

The coach had other ideas.

“I do want to add one more thing,” he interrupted. “I just want to thank our staff. Our staff is incredible. Coach [Frozena Jerro], Coach Shelby [Zoeckler], they’ve been with me every day for the last six years.”

“Coach Fro deserves some head coaching interviews. Coach Fro is ready to be a head coach, I want to put that out there very loud and very clear. So give her an interview, please.”

Kielsmeier didn’t quite get his wish, but he received perhaps the next best thing on Tuesday evening, as Jerro was hired as an assistant coach on Marisa Moseley’s staff at Wisconsin.

“I am thrilled and deeply appreciative to become a part of Coach Moseley’s staff at the University of Wisconsin,” Jerro said in the UW release. “She is a proven champion, and I admire her dedication to advancing our sport, as well as the leadership she offers in guiding the young women we have the privilege to coach.”

“I feel honored to have the chance to contribute my experience, love for the game, and mentorship to further build upon the remarkable strides made by an exceptional staff and committed, talented student-athletes.”

As Kielsmeier noted at that press conference a couple months ago, Jerro’s tenure at CSU was as long as his own, a stretch that includes four 20-win seasons, one 30-win season, five straight trips to the Horizon League semifinals, and a trio of major championships, including the Women’s Basketball Invitational and Horizon League tournaments in 2021 and 2023, respectively, and the HL’s regular season crown in 2023-24. Fifteen Vikings were all-league selections with Jerro on the staff, including Destiny Leo and Colbi Maples, the conference’s two most recent players of the year.

Jerro has 30 years of coaching experience in all, including a seven-year stretch at UIC (then a Horizon League member, of course) just prior to her time in Northeast Ohio. She has also been at NJIT, UNLV and Houston, with her only head coaching role to date coming at Cal State Northridge around the turn of the century. In four years at the helm of the Matadors, Jerro produced the school’s first NCAA Tournament appearance, in 1998-99, while also claiming Big Sky coach of the year honors that season.

Her departure leaves a massive hole in a Cleveland State staff that’s had to deal with five of them over the last four offseasons – though, in each case, the hole was created by a coach departing for a higher-profile job. That’s a remarkable rarity at any school, let alone one that had an infamous reputation for failing to turn out coaches with job mobility for a long time. That has plainly reversed on Kielsmeier’s watch.

In 2020-21, his three coaches were Jerro, Katelin Oney and Desma Thomas Bateast. Oney, who was also a grad assistant with Kielsmeier at Wayne State College before becoming a part of his initial CSU staff, departed for an assistant coach position at Northern Iowa following the Vikings’ 2021 WBI title.

She was replaced by Bob Dunn, forming a trio that would stay together for the next two seasons, including CSU’s third-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2023. Then, last June, Dunn and Thomas Bateast both left for ACC assistant coach jobs, at Miami and Florida State, respectively. Their replacements were Zoeckler, who had gradually risen through the program since her time as a Cleveland State undergraduate and was promoted from the Director of Basketball Operations role, and former Akron head coach Melissa Jackson.

Jackson’s stay was a brief one, as she became Youngstown State’s head coach back in March, and the Vikings filled that vacancy with Merrimack assistant Emily Taylor two weeks ago.

Now with Jerro headed to the Big Ten (and a reunion with 2023-24 Horizon League Freshman of the Year Carter McCray, who recently transferred from Northern Kentucky to Wisconsin), Kielsmeier will have to open his elevator doors one more time this summer.

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